Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Awe and Amazement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line). We used James Winny's 2004 translation.
Then Arthur confronts that wonder before the high table,
And saluted him politely, for afraid was he never.
(250 - 251)
It’s a mark of Arthur’s leadership that he, unlike all the other people, is not stopped short even by something unexpected. A leader has to know how to react in all situations, even the unfamiliar ones, if he’s going to be effective.
And the man seated himself on horseback as firmly
As if he had suffered no injury, though headless he sat
in his place.
He turned his body round,
That gruesome trunk that bled;
Many were struck by fear
When all his words were said.
(437 - 443)
If the people of Arthur’s court think they have witnessed a wonder when the man in green rides in, they are definitely gobsmacked when he picks his head up off the floor and speaks to them with it. There’s an interesting contrast here between the silence of the awe-struck crowd and the talking head that can’t be silenced, even when severed from its body.
Seeing that green man go,
The king and Gawain grin;
Yet they both agreed
They had a wonder seen.
(463 - 466)
The authoritativeness of Arthur and Gawain’s opinions means that there can be no debate about whether or not the Green Knight was truly wondrous. This passage sets Gawain and Arthur’s relief at the Green Knight’s departure with their desire to see the wondrous. Just like in real life, people can be simultaneously exhilarated and frightened by new experiences.