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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


by Anonymous

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 1, Lines 37 - 249 Summary

  • OK, let the story begin!
  • We're now in Camelot, King Arthur's famous court, and it's Christmas time. Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and a bunch of other guests are celebrating.
  • The Christmas celebrations include fifteen days of feasting and entertainment, including jousting and dancing.
  • We hear a good deal about how amazing King Arthur is and how brave his knights are.
  • It's the New Year and everyone is gathered, celebrating and giving gifts.
  • At dinnertime, Queen Guinevere sits in the middle, decked out in beautiful and expensive clothes and jewelry. The narrator assures us that's she's the most beautiful woman ever.
  • Arthur doesn't want to start the feast until someone tells a pre-dinner story about some exciting adventure, or until some kind of marvelous event happens. (This is a little tradition of his.) So Arthur holds off on dinner, joking with his nobles and refusing food until something interesting happens.
  • In the meantime, we're introduced to some of the people surrounding Arthur, including Gawain, the king’s nephew and a very good knight.
  • Some trumpets sound, and the first course of the feast is set out.
  • Before long, something interesting does happen: a giant of a man bursts into the hall, riding a horse.
  • We're treated to some detailed descriptions of this giant, including hearing about his broad shoulders, trim waistline, and thick limbs. (He's starting to sound like the hero of a romance novel.)
  • And then we find out that he's completely green. His clothes are green. His skin is green. Even his horse is green.
  • His clothes are fancy, decorated with elaborate embroidery, gems, and silky ermine.
  • His hair is long and nicely styled. Even his horse's hair is combed and braided.
  • This green giant doesn't have any armor, but holds in one hand a holly branch, and in the other an enormous axe.
  • He glares at everyone, then asks to speak to their leader.
  • Everyone is completely astonished. They think he might have come from the land of the fairies.
  • Silence settles over the feast hall as everyone sits stone-still, waiting for King Arthur to speak.

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