Sir Gawain and The Green Knight Short Summary
This is an Arthurian romance poem by Gawain Poet. It follows the common formula of quests whereby a knight sets out on a journey, meets some challenges and returns with a report of the events.
Here Is a Quick Overview of the Story
The narration begins when a knight enters the hall of King Arthur. He is the Green Knight. He suggests a game. Any of the knights who had enough bravery to strike the Green Knight’s head right off would get to keep his axe, but the challenger would have to accept a similar strike within a year. Gawain accepts this challenge and chops off the head of the green knight. The green night collects his chopped off head and takes his leave, after informing Gawain to search for a Green chapel.
As the year came close to the end, Gawain sets out heading for the chapel, and he comes across a castle placed in the desert. The lord there asks him to stay at least past New Years. The lord proposes. That Gawain should stay at his castle while the lord went hunting and the two would get to exchange their gains at the day’s end.
The exchange occurs over three days. While the lord is hunting each day, the lady of the castle makes attempts to seduce Gawain. Gawain rejects the advances, but he kisses her. She eventually gives him a magic belt meant to protect the wearer. Gawain repays this with kisses but keeps the belt a secret.
Gawain gets to the Green Chapel. The knight makes two attempts to chop off his head, but Gawain flinches twice. On the third swing, the Green Knight makes a small cut on Gawain’s neck. He then reveals that he was the host at the castle and his appearance was changed by Morgan le Fay. The Green night tells him that the first two swings represented the first two days of the agreement they had where Gawain gave him the kisses he received from the lady. The cut, however, was because he accepted the belt and hid it. Gawain is filled with shame and puts on the belt as a reminder of his transgressions. He goes back to Camelot and tells the tale. The court bursts in laughter but honors him by wearing similar girdles. This becomes a tradition.