Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Quotes

"More strange things have happened in this land since these days
than in any other that I know,
but of all the British kings that built here,
Arthur was ever the most courteous,
as I have heard tell." (Part 1)


The author straightforwardly let the reader know that courtesy and chivalry in King Arthur's court should not be something to debate about, but yet continues to narrate the story and tempts the reader to reassess this claim. Eventually, this statement turns out to be true, as Sir Gawain repents for not being honest to Bernlak all along.

"Another noise full new suddenly drew nigh,
for scarcely had the music ceased a moment,
and the first course been properly served in the court,
than there burst in at the hall door an awesome being,
in height one of the tallest men in the world;
from the neck to the waist so square and so thick was he
(...)
he carried himself in hostile fashion
and was entirely green." (Part 1)


This is the moment when Green Knight enters the Camelot. Courtiers are so stunned by his figure and overall appearance that the music stops immediately. At the end of the poem we learn that he managed to look this intimidating thanks to the magic of Morgen la Fey, who wanted to tempt King Arthur's knights and frighten his wife to death.

"He had neither helm nor hauberk,
nor gorget, armour nor breastplate,
nor shaft nor shield to guard or to smite;
but in his one hand he had a holly twig,
that is greenest when groves are bare,
and an axe in his other,
a huge and prodigious one,
a weapon merciless almost beyond description; (Part 1)


The description of the Green Knight the first time he enters the Camelot. He is not dressed for fight as he has no any kind of protection, shield, helmet etc. However, the huge axe in his hand does not look promising and courtiers are both amazed with his appearance as well as threatened by his behavior.

"Then they showed him the shield,
that was of sheer gules,
with the pentangle painted in pure gold.
He took it by the baldric and cast it about his neck;
and it became the hero passing fair.
And why the pentangle pertains to that noble prince
I mean to tell you, though it should delay me.
It is a sign that Solomon set formerly as a token of truth,
by its own right, for it is a figure that holds five points,
and each line overlaps and locks in another;
and throughout it is endless;" (Part 2)


The most important piece of armory Sir Gawain carries to quest of the Green Knight is his shield with the pentangle engraved in it. Five points of pentangle symbolizes five virtues each knight should have. Moreover, it symbolizes Christ five wounds, intertwining chivalry with Christianity, forming the perfect human being.

"let us make an agreement.
Whatsoever I win in the wood, it shall be yours;
and whatsoever fortune ye achieve,
exchange with me therefor." (Part 2)


This is the beginning of the hoax Bernlak has planned in order to test Sir Gawain. He does the same thing at the beginning of the poem when he makes another agreement with Sir Gawain, to look up for him one year and a day later. Although there are many hints that the Green Knight is actually Bernlak, the author hides the truth until the very end of the poem.

"Your honour, your courtesy, is heartily praised,
by lords, by ladies, by all alive;" (Part 3)


This is the sweet talk of Bernlak's wife when she sneaks into the Sir Gawain's chamber for the first time. Although it seems that she is saying this only to seduce him, Sir Gawain does have a reputation of a great warrior, which will be confirmed once more at the end of the poem.

"If ye refuse my ring, since it seems too rich,
and ye would not be so highly beholden to me,
I shall give you my girdle,
that will enrich you less."
She lightly caught a lace that went about her sides,
knit upon her kirtle under the bright mantle.
It was adorned with green silk,
and ornamented with gold,
broidered all around,
decked with fringes;" (Part 3)


After rejecting to take nor give any love tokens, Sir Gawain is lured to accept the green girdle as a talisman, as it has magic powers. Namely, it protects the life of a person who carries it. Sir Gawain's first thought is the protection from the Green Knight's weapon, so he accepts it. Previously, has been offered the lady's ring, but he refused it because it looked too rich.

"She lightly caught a lace that went about her sides,
knit upon her kirtle under the bright mantle.
It was adorned with green silk,
and ornamented with gold,
broidered all around,
decked with fringes" (Part 3)


The description of the green girdle that caused Sir Gawain a lot of troubles, making him believe that he has become a disgrace for the Round Table.

"This is a chapel of mischance;
may ill fortune betide it!
It is the cursedest kirk that ever I came in!"
(...)
It had a hole at the end and on either side,
and was overgrown with grass in clumps everywhere,
and was all hollow within -
nothing but an old cave or a crevice of an old crag. (Part 4)


The description of the Green Chapel and Sir Gawain's opinion on it. He feels uneasy once he realizes that he has come to a right place, since there is nothing so untamed and dangerous as the place where the Green Chapel is placed. Both the Green Knight and the Green Chapel are symbols of the untamed side of the nature, with all the wilderness and danger lurking in it.

"And I give thee, sir,
the girdle that is gold hemmed.
Since it is green, as is my gown,
Sir Gawain, ye may think upon this same adventure
where thou goest forth among great princes;
and this shall be a genuine token among chivalrous knights
of the adventure of the green chapel..." (Part 4)


These are the Green Knight's words after the duel with Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain has defended the honor of all knights by being honest and admitting to his bad deeds, sincerely regretting the mistakes. The Green Knight's words are honest and they depict the true value of the young knight. Although he has fallen for the wrong woman, he manages to make up for it and comes out of the battle as a winner of the game.



Related Links:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Summary
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Quiz
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 4 Summary
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 1 Summary
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2 Summary
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Important Characters
Literature
Literature Summaries


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