Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Awe and Amazement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line). We used James Winny's 2004 translation.
Although inwardly Arthur was deeply astonished,
He let no sign of this appear, but loudly remarked
To the beautiful queen with courteous speech,
"Dear Lady, let nothing distress you today.
Such strange goings-on are fitting at Christmas,
Putting on interludes, laughing and singing,
Mixed with courtly dances of ladies and knights."
(467 - 473)
The king’s speech here, "loudly remarked," is for the whole court’s benefit as well as the queen’s, all of whom must be frightened by what they have just witnessed. Arthur attempts to prevent their distress by lumping the Green Knight in with other Christmas doings like plays, song, and dance. We can’t help but think that this comparison rings a bit hollow, though.
"Now sir, hang your axe up, for it has severed enough."
And it was hung above the dais, on a piece of tapestry,
Where everyone might gaze on it as a wonder,
And the living proof of this marvellous tale.
(477 - 480)
An event so wondrous needs living proof - something that can be seen and touched - in order to be believed. This passage resonates with one a few hundred lines later, when Sir Bertilak hangs his hood on a spear and invites his men to compete for it. In both cases, possessions belonging to this character (for we later learn that Sir Bertilak and the Green Knight are one and the same) are objects of display and desire.