Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2 Summary

At the beginning of Part 2 the author reminds us of the deal made between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and goes on about Sir Gawain's feelings about it. Although it was funny to chop of someone's head a year ago, the certainty of the reencounter with the Green Knight that is around the corner now weighs upon him, leaving him restless.


In the following lines the author describes the beauty of each season, giving us the thorough description of smells, colors and sights of nature, depicting how quickly times passes by until it closes the circle and brings us closer to the next New Year and upcoming event that will seal Sir Gawain's destiny. For "the hero's sake" King Arthur makes a feast on the Day of All Saints, and although everyone is worried, they try to stay joyful. After the dinner Sir Gawain asks his uncle the permission to leave and start a quest for the Green Knight. All Knights of the Round Table gather to see Sir Gawain off. Trying not to show his anxiety, he even makes a joke about it, by saying:


"Why should I swerve from stern and strange destiny?

What can a man do but try?"


The following lines describe Sir Gawain's preparations for the quest. In the morning after the feast, he asks for his arms and they are brought to him with the great ceremony. Courtiers equip him with the most expensive pieces of clothes and shield, all described in great details. The pentangle carved in the shield with pure gold in the red background with the face of Mary inside the shield is highly symbolical, conveying Sir Gawain's five virtues, consolidating both Christian virtues and those that one great knight should have.


Riding on his horse Gringolet, who is also ceremonially prepared for the trip, Sir Gawain sets of to find the Green Knight. The following lines describe his days in wilderness, where he is often all alone, struggling with wild animals and people along the way. Travelling through Wales and west coasts of England he enquire about the Green Knight but no one has ever heard about such a marvelous knight. Facing cold weather and all kinds of trouble, he prays to find the Green Knight. On the Christmas Eve his prayers are answered when he runs into a castle surrounded by trees. It is so beautiful that seems almost unreal. He approaches it and asks guardian to let him in. The man salutes and allows him to enter, where Sir Gawain meets a crowd of polite people who show nothing but respect and admiration for his presence. The lord of the castle looks intimidating in comparison to King Arthur. He is old but vital, broad in shoulder and stout in figure. Although his face is fierce, he is as kind as all of his courtiers and also honored to meet and be a host to King Arthur's nephew. He chooses the best chamber and robe for his guest, serves a generous dinner and asks him to stay as pleased. During their conversation two ladies enter the room, one that is young and beautiful and the other old and ugly. The young lady has white complexion, carries pearls and has exposed throat and breasts, while the other one has yellow, blistered skin and is fully covered with clothes. Sir Gawain is charmed with the beauty of the young one, concluding that she's prettier than Queen Guinevere. However he acts courtly and greets both of them with equal respect. They spend the rest of the evenings in high spirits, talking and playing games. Two days after Christmas Sir Gawain feels the raising pressure of the quest, so he knows that he must continue his search for the Green Knight. He shares his worry with the host, informing him that he has an arrangement with the Green Knight and he has to move on. The host calms him by saying that the Green chapel is not far away and he can stay a bit longer in his castle. Relieved, Sir Gawain accepts the offer to stay and spends more days with the lord and the two ladies. To make things more interesting, the lord proposes a game- he and his two men are about to go hunting while Sir Gawain stays with the ladies. Whatever they win in the woods will give to Sir Gawain, and whatever happens to Sir Gawain, he will let them know. Sir Gawain accepts this game and the Part 2 ends with them going to bed "full softly at the last."




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