The Green Knight sets the Green Chapel as a place where the challenger should find him in a year to receive the ax blow in return. The Green Chapel looks like an old crack in the ground covered in grass. This mound reminds Gawain, the main character of the poem, of a cave with a small stream alongside.
The Green Chapel is one of the key symbols of the 14th-century Arthurian poem. Its location, appearance, and name are crucial for the understanding of the work’s profound message. The main idea of the poem is to follow the Chivalry code no matter what. When Sir Gawain agrees to the Green Knight’s deal, he knows he could not just run away from the pact. It would be dishonorable for a knight to let fear win and quit. Thus, he feels it is his duty to find the Green Knight on the arranged day and meet his fate.
Gawain considers the Green Chapel to be an abandoned, cursed place, where the evil thrives. Even his guide, who leads Gawain’s way into the forest, becomes horrified with each step and begs him not to go there. Indeed, the scene is terrifying, with the sounds of someone sharping a blade. Then, the Green Knight appears and starts his blows. That is when Gawain learns that the Green Knight is actually the castle’s host.
With his blows, the Green Knight is punishing Gawain for violating the agreement with this host. They agreed that the host (Bertilak) would give Gawain winnings from his hunting trips. In exchange, Gawain would provide him with something he obtained in the castle that day. Two days in a row, Gawain does as they agreed, getting kisses from Bertilak’s wife and giving them back to Bertilak. However, on his third day, the wife gives Gawain the Green Girdle, which protects anyone who wears it from death. Afraid of dying in the Green Chapel, Gawain does not return it to Bertilak.
Thus, the Green Knight plays the role of a priest who teaches Gawain a lesson. Gawain himself understands his faulty deed and repents. He is a worthy knight who lives by the code of chivalry. The Green Knight senses that and forgives him, letting him live. This scene represents a religious act, just like in a true church. When this ended, Gawain immediately saw the chapel in a different light. Now, it appeared to him to be a place of truth and transformation. It became a reminder for him to be an honorable knight and a person of integrity.
An attentive reader can also notice that the green color appears throughout the whole plot. The Knight stood at the court in a green splay, the chapel was covered in grass, and the girdle Gawain obtained was also green. This color is symbolic in the way it represents nature, life, and peace. Sir Gawain obtained peace of mind and learned to live by the moral code. Thus, the Green Chapel might have been a scary, abandoned place, but its primary function was to serve as a turning point in the main character’s moral journey.