- What special item is Sir Gawain wearing when he goes
out to confront the Green Knight?
- The servant assigned to guide Sir Gawain to the Green
Chapel gives Gawain some unsolicited advice. He suggests
that since the Green Chapel is so perilous, and since
the Green Knight is so dangerous, Gawain should do what?
What does the servant promise he will do if Sir Gawain
takes his advice?
- How does Gawain react to the servant's suggestion?
- What is the architecture like when Sir Gawain comes
to the "Green Chapel"? Is it really a chapel?
If so, what does it look like? If not, what is the Chapel?
- What's growing around the Green Chapel? Why is this
strange for the time of year?
- What sound does Sir Gawain hear as he walks around the
outside of the Green Chapel? Why would that sound evoke
a strong emotional reaction?
- How does Sir Gawain react when the Green Knight gets
ready to swing the ax the first time? What does the Green
Knight have to say about that reaction?
- What does Sir Gawain vow about his reaction when the
next swing comes? Does he keep that vow?
- Why does Sir Gawain get cranky when the Green Knight
starts making requests about the position of Sir Gawain's
- When the Green Knight strikes Sir Gawain with the ax,
he leaves a wound. Describe this wound.
- What does Sir Gawain do after being cut by the Green
- After Sir Gawain sees his own blood in the snow, the
text says he leaps backward to grab his weapons and helmet.
How far backward does he jump? Does that seem plausible
to you? Why or why not?
- After wounding, how does the Green Knight respond to
Sir Gawain's frantic words claiming the bargain is now
fulfilled and the game is over?
- When the Green Knight explains himself, why does he
say he did not wound Sir Gawain with the first swing?
Why does he say he didn't wound Sir Gawain with the second
swing? Why did he actually strike Sir Gawain with the
third swing, even though Sir Gawain gave him the appropriate
number of kisses and didn't commit adultery? What, according
to the Green Knight, did Sir Gawain lack? Why doesn't
the Green Knight blame or judge Gawain harshly for that
- Who sent the wife to seduce Gawain, according to the
- How does Gawain react physically when the Green Knight
analyzes Sir Gawain's performance in regards to these
- Who or what does Sir Gawain initially blame for his
failure, citing the events that happened to Adam, Solomon,
and Samson in the Bible?
- What is the Green Knight's real name?
- What mythical female figure, according to the Green
Knight, dwells in the castle? Why did she send the Green
Knight to Camelot? According to the Green Knight, his
mystical appearance was actually an assassination attempt.
Who was supposed to be literally frightened to death by
the Green Knight's decapitation? Knowing what we do about
the ultimate fate of Camelot, why is it ironic that this
mythical figure would seek to destroy Camelot by assassinating
- Why does Sir Gawain decide to wear the green girdle
as a baldric for the rest of his days? What happens to
Sir Gawain's complection as he recounts to King Arthur's
court the story of his adventure?
- How does the court comfort Sir Gawain? (i.e., what action
do they take in the way they dress to show their support
- How is Sir Gawain's attitude toward his performance
different than the attitude of both Sir Bercilak and the
court at Camelot?
Sample Passage Identifications:
A. "You press onward to a perilous place, for he who lives
in that waste is the worst on earth. He is stiff and stern,
and he loves to strike others. He is taller than any man
on middle-earth . . . And this is his custom at the Green
Chapel: no man may pass that place, however proud in arms,
the Green Knight doing him to death by force of his hands,
for he is not a noble knight, and he shows no chivalry.
It can be a churl or chaplain who rides by that barrow,
monk or mass priest, or any other. He finds it as fun to
slay such ones as to be breathing himself."
B. "Could this be the Green Chapel? Here at midnight might the deveil say his matins. Now truly is this place a wasteland. This is an ugly oratory, all overgrown with grass, and it seems appropriate that the fellow in green would say here his devotions in devilry. Now I feel in my five wits, it is the Fiend himself who hath arranged this rendezvous, to destroy me here! This is a chapel of mischance! Checkmate! It is the most cursed kirk that ever I came in."
C. "Wait awhile," said
one on the bank above his head, "and you shall soon
have all I swore to you." Yet for a while the
sound of that sharpening and the whetting of his weapon
on before he came forth from a hole
in the hill whirling out of a rock-wedge with a wild war-ax,
a Danish weapon newly designed, wherewith to deal the blow.
D. "I shrank once, but I won't again, even though when my head falls on the floor, I cannot fit it to the neck once more. But hurry, Sir Knight, by your faith, and bring me to the point. Deal me my destiny, and do it out of hand, for I shall you stand you a stroke and move no more till your axe has hit me--have here my oath."
E. [He] lifted the axe lightly and let it fall accurately with the edge of the blade breaking only the neck's skin. Though he struck swiftly, it hurt no more than one one side where the knife-edge nicked that fellow's flesh. The sharp blade cut through the flesh down to the shear grease so that the blood spurted over his shoulder and shot to the ground.
F. The Green Knight stood back and rested
on his axe, setting the shaft on the ground, and looked
on the other man as Gawain stood his ground all armed and
faced him fearlessly. At heart, he liked it well. Then
he spoke merrily in a loud voice, and said to the knight, "Bold
knight, don’t be so belligerent.
No man here has done you any wrong, nor will I do any harm
except by our covenant as we crafted the contract at Arthur's
court. I owed you one strike, and you have had it--hold
yourself well paid! I release you from any remaining claims.
If I had been so minded, I could easily have offered you
a more savage strike. . . ."
G. “For it is my clothing you carry, that
very same woven girdle; my own wife wove it, that I know
a fact. Now I know well your kisses, and your conversation,
and the wooing of my wife, I set it up myself! I sent
her to test you, and in truth I find you the most faultless
knight that ever walked the world. As a pearl among white
peas is more precious than they are, so [are you], in
good faith, worth more than frivolous fighters. But you
did lack a little, Sir Knight, and you were wanting in
loyalty, yet that was for no deceitful deed, nor for
wooing of women, but because you loved your life--therefore
I do not blame you too much."
H. "I will do that truly," the other
said. "I am called Bertilak de Hautdesert in this
country. Morgan LeFay dwells in my house, and through her
knowledge of sorcerous skills, she has captured many. For
long time she was the mistress of Merlin, who knew well
all you knights of Arthur’s court. Therefore Morgan
the goddess is her name, and none is so high in haughtiness
that she cannot humble him."
I. Then joy awakened in that dwelling
when the king knew that the good Sir Gawain had come, for
it seemed good to him. King Arthur kissed the knight, and
also the queen, and many strong knights sought to embrace
him. They asked him what had happened, and he told them
all accurately: the misfortune of the chapel, the appearance
of the Green Knight, the love of the lady, and--at last--the
lace. He showed them the nick in his neck that he won for
his wickedness at the hand of the knight. He groaned for
grief and shame, and the blood flew to his face for shame
when he showed it to them.
J. "Behold, king," the man said, and he handled
the lace, "this is the bond of the blame that I
bear on my neck, this is the loathing and the loss I
have suffered due to the cowardice and covetousness in
which I was caught, the token of the untruth in which
I was taken. And I must wear it as long as I live. None
can hide his harm nor erase the event, for if sin has
touched to you once, it may never be untwined."
K. The king comforted the knight, and all the court also. They laughed loudly at the tale, and they made an agreement that all the lords and ladies who belonged to the Round Table, eah hero in the brotherhood, should wear bound about him a baldric of bright green for the sake of that hero. . . . May CHrist who bore the crown of thorn bring us unto His bliss. Hony soyt qui mal pence!