Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Hardly had he caught sight through the trees of a moated buildingStanding over a field, on a mound, surrounded by boughsOf many a massive tree-trunk enclosing the moat:The most splendid castle ever owned by a knight,Set on a meadow, a park all around,Closely guarded by a spiked palisadeThat encircled many trees for more than two miles.That side of the castle Sir Gawain surveyedAs it shimmered and shone through the fine oaks.(763 - 772)
When the castle appears to Gawain, tired and cold after over a month of wandering through an enchanted wilderness, it’s a sight too good to be true. In fact, it shimmers like a mirage in the distance, probably indicating that magic has some role to play in its existence.
Gawain studied the man who greeted him courteously,And thought him a bold one who governed the castle,A great-sized knight indeed, in the prime of life;Broad and glossy was his beard, all reddish-brown,Stern-faced, standing firmly on powerful legs;With a face fierce as fire, and noble in speech,Who truly seemed capable, it appeared to Gawain,Of being master of a castle with outstanding knights.(843 - 849)
In medieval romance (and a lot of medieval literature more generally), a man’s appearance matters. The healthy, powerful appearance of the lord of the castle indicate his fitness as a lord, a capability Gawain notes approvingly.
[Attendants] took him to a fine bedroom with marvellous bedding;Curtains of pure silk with shining gold borders,And elaborate coverlets with splendid facingOf bright ermine on top, embroidered all around;Curtains on golden rings, running on cords.Walls covered with hangings from Tharsia and ToulouseAnd underfoot on the floor of a matching kind.(853 - 859)
As do the decorations in Arthur’s court, the richness of the chamber in which Lord Bertilak places Gawain indicate his wealth and influence. The wall-hangings from Tars and France indicate the kingdom’s access to international trade, a strange detail in a palace that appears to be in the middle of nowhere.