What are the gallows in “Crispin: The Cross of Lead”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
The gallows in "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" are a significant symbol of oppression and punishment in medieval England. They are wooden structures that were used for public executions, typically for those who committed crimes such as treason or theft. In the novel, the protagonist, Crispin, is threatened with hanging from the gallows after being accused of a crime he did not commit. This punishment is often used as a threat to maintain control over the people by the ruling class.
Detailed answer:

In "Crispin: The Cross of Lead," the gallows are a symbol of power and control that the ruling class uses to intimidate and oppress the common people. They are a physical representation of the harsh consequences that await those who dare to challenge the authority of the nobility.

The gallows appear in the novel when the main character, Crispin, witnesses the hanging of Bear, the man who had been helping him. The scene is described in vivid detail: "The noose slipped over his head, and then the rough plank fell away, and Bear was left dangling from the rope. His face turned purple, and his eyes bulged, and then he was still" (Avi, 2002, p. 160).

The gallows serve as a reminder of the brutal and violent nature of the ruling class, who will stop at nothing to maintain their power and control over the common people. They also represent the fear that the common people have of challenging the authority of the nobility, as they know that the consequences could be severe.

Throughout the novel, the gallows are a recurring motif that highlights the harsh reality of life for the common people in medieval England. They serve as a reminder that the struggle for justice and equality is never easy, and that the price of freedom can sometimes be very high.

In conclusion, the gallows in "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" symbolize the power and control of the ruling class, as well as the harsh consequences that await those who challenge their authority. Their presence in the novel underscores the difficult and dangerous path that Crispin must navigate as he seeks to find his place in the world and fight for justice and freedom.

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