. The poem could be seen to be a description of the endless conflict between nature and chivalry. Other analysts have described the poem as a critique of the values of Christianity where the zeal to eliminate all traces of paganism leaves the court of King Arthur without any semblance of humanity. The manner in which the Knights are dressed is also important demonstrating the way the girdle is used since this is the only element of clothing which is discussed at length in the poem. This girdle returns as a leitmotif several times especially when one has to consider that it reappears several times stained with blood demonstrating its symbolic importance. The way the Green Knight is dressed also personifies the elements of evil which Sir Gawain must attack to rid the world of this actual evil.
Other less important themes which dominate the poem are the mention of the concept of games and the passage of time and the seasons. A close analysis of the poem reveals that the word game appears no less than 18 times although there is similarity to the word man which actually appears three times more. However we have the portrayal of games in other contexts as well such as the exchange of gifts which eventually turns out to be an important part of the beheading process which is also seen as game. There is a link between the success in the first game with that of the second – this link is quite unique in poems coming from the same period. The attire during the games is also an important aspect of the poem.
The Canterbury Tales
Chaucer’s personal relationships are also put under the spotlight especially in The Canterbury Tales. One asks the question what is love with a certain amount of temerity and dexterity but basically it is the relationship between a man and a woman which comes across as intrinsic love accordingly. However Chaucer does not only examine these relationships accordingly but he also focuses on what may be achieved when there is love between two siblings for example. These allusions are very powerful especially in The Parliament of Foules and in The Canterbury Tales where life is obviously not always a bed of roses in this sense. There is reference to woman’s sexual urges in the way they are dressed with low cut dresses forming an essential part of the whole story. Nudity and nakedness is occasionally alluded to by Chaucer as well making the story bawdry and at times almost pornographic.
However life can also be beautiful in the sense of appreciating love which is part and parcel of the whole game of the books Chaucer wrote. Yet we may also seem to abhor certain elements of love and some people may even want to be alone without love.
Finally Chaucer looks at the problem of love with an open mind demonstrating that if this is not taken too seriously then life moves forward just the same. He attempts to throw an element of light heartedness and touches upon this word which man calls love with alacrity and an amount of insecurity also.
Love is a topic which features very much in Chaucer’s works although this is perhaps equal to the irony which pervades it. The comparison between the Parliament of Foulds and The Canterbury Tales is instructive as it shows that life cannot really be weighed from the outside where personal issues are concerned. The strong points of Chaucer’s works are that they tend to be shocking in this respect and they are also clownish too. Perhaps it is true that Chaucer mastered the language of love far better than anyone else in his day and age and the results are there for all to see. Clothing is also an important aspect in the play.
Bisson, Lillian. Chaucer and the Late Medieval World. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0-312-10667-X
The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 8th ed. Vol. B. New York, London: W. W. Norton and Co., 2006. pp. 19–21 and 160–161. ISBN 0-393-92833-0
Robertson, D.W. Jr. "Why the Devil Wears Green". Modern Language Notes. (November 1954) 69.7 pp. 470–472.