Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Awe and Amazement Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
His hue astounded them,
Set in his looks so keen;
For boldly he rode in,
Completely emerald green.
(147 - 150)
The first mention we hear of the Knight’s entirely green appearance goes hand in hand with the wonder of the people at his color (the Middle English actually has "wonder of his hwe [hue] men hade," 147). So, although this man is practically a giant, it’s his color that really gets people staring.
For long there was only staring at the man,
For everyone marvelled what it could mean
That a knight and a horse might take such a colour
And become green as grass, and greener it seemed
Than green enamel shining on gold.
(232 - 236)
Again, the major factor causing everyone’s astonishment at the Knight seems to be his complexion. We don’t know about you, but our first thought on seeing such a man would be "where’d he get the body paint?" But it could be that the unexpectedness of the greenness at this time and place causes just as much amazement as the color itself.
All those standing there gazed, and warily crept closer,
Bursting with wonder to see what he would do;
For many marvels they had known, but such a one never;
So the folk there judged it phantasm or magic.
For this reason many noble knights feared to answer:
And stunned by his words they sat there stock-still,
While dead silence spread throughout the rich hall
As though everyone fell asleep, so was their talk stilled
at a word.
(237 - 245)
Another element contributing to the wonder the people feel is the fact that they have never before seen anything like this man. So the feeling of wonder seems to be caused in part by unfamiliarity, as much as by unexpectedness. The effect of wonder is silence, in part because no one is quite sure how to react when confronted with the unknown.