What's the significance of the pentangle throughout Gawain and the Green Knight?
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The pentangle on Gawain's shield is seen by many critics as signifying Gawain's perfection and power over evil. The poem contains the only representation of such a symbol on Gawain's shield in the Gawain literature. What is more, the poet uses a total of 46 lines to describe the meaning of the pentangle. No other symbol in the poem receives as much attention or is described in such detail. The poem describes the pentangle as a symbol of faithfulness and an "endless knot". In line 625, it is described as "a sign by Solomon". Solomon, the third king of Israel, in 10th century B.C. was said to have the mark of the pentagram on his ring, which he received from the archangel Michael. The pentagram seal on this ring was said to give Solomon power over demons.
Along these lines, some academics link the Gawain pentangle to magical traditions. In Germany, the symbol was called a Drudenfuß and was placed on household objects to keep out evil. The symbol was also associated with magical charms which, if recited or written on a weapon, would call forth magical forces. However, concrete evidence tying the magical pentagram to Gawain's pentangle is scarce.
Gawain’s pentangle also symbolises the “phenomenon of physically endless objects signifying a temporally endless quality.” Many poets use the symbol of the circle to show infinity or endlessness, but Gawain’s poet insisted on using something more complex. In medieval number theory, the number five is considered a “circular number”, since it “reproduces itself in its last digit when raised to its powers”. Furthermore, it replicates itself geometrically; that is, every pentangle has a smaller pentagon that allows a pentangle to be embedded in it and this “process may be repeated forever with decreasing pentangles”. Thus, by reproducing the number five, which in medieval number symbolism signified incorruptibility, Gawain's pentangle represents his eternal incorruptibility.Source(s): Wiki