For as long as man has put pen to paper in an effort to communicate ideas through written word, authors have used symbolism to develop a story or create an understanding. The book, Narrative Fiction, An Introduction and Anthology, explains: .
Symbolism is offering the reader a concrete object that actually has a broader, .
more abstract meaning to the story or novel. Examples of symbols are light, .
representing qualities such as purity and goodness; darkness, representing evil and .
evil doings; specific colors, representing a multitude of emotions from love to hate; .
and locations, representing good or bad dependent upon how the setting is .
described by the author. (Griffith 7).
The Medieval masterpiece "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" provides many excellent examples of the effective use of symbolism in literature.
The poem is divided into three parts; therefore the various symbols existing within the poem are best examined in three parts as well. .
In the first part of the poem, the most important symbol is the Green Knight himself. In, The Norton Anthology, World Masterpieces, we read, "Great wonder in the hall at his hue most strange to see, for man and gear and all were green as green could be" (1462). By devoting nearly 100 lines to a painstaking description of the Green Knight's appearance, the Pearl Poet leaves little doubt as to the importance of the knight's color. .
According to Ithaca University English Professor Michael Twomey:.
Several late medieval writers moralized heraldry - provided moral commentaries .
on heraldic images and colors - and in these writers green can represent a range of .
things, including spring. Green is on of the colors that medieval knights wore in .
their surcoats. In other contexts, green could represent sourness, jealousy, .
immaturity, greed and inconstancy in love.