Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2, Lines 491 - 690 Summary
- Time passes and it's soon Lent.
- More time passes and spring arrives, followed by summer. We hear about the pretty blossoms and plants growing.
- Now it's the harvest, followed by autumn.
- Finally, the cold weather sets in and Gawain thinks anxiously about his impending trip. Yet until All Saint’s Day, Gawain lingers with Arthur, who prepares a farewell feast. Everyone is sad or worried to think of Gawain going to meet the Green Knight.
- Gawain tries to act upbeat, saying things like, "Why should I worry? A man must confront his fate, be it good or bad."
- The next morning, he preps to leave.
- He dresses in fancy silk clothes and an ermine-lined cape.
- He puts on his polished armor, including leg coverings, a mail-shirt made of steel, elbow pieces, gloves, and his trusty sword.
- Gawain prays at the high altar, then says goodbye to Arthur, the other knights, and all of the lords and ladies.
- He hops on his horse, Gringolet, who is also decked out with a shiny new saddle and bridle.
- The narrator gives us some more descriptions of Gawain's fancy gear.
- His helm (helmet) is studded with gems and has a silk border, lavishly decorated with embroidery. It looks like many women in town must have worked on it for seven years.
- The circlet that wraps around his head is made with diamonds.
- His shield is then brought out, with a golden pentangle (five-pointed star) on it.
- The narrator takes a quick break from the main action of the story to tell us why Gawain has taken the pentangle as his coat of arms.
- The narrator tells us that the pentangle is a sign that Solomon composed to stand for truth, because it has five points and lines, all of which interlace with the other. It is endless; the English call it the endless knot.
- This sign suits Gawain because he has five important aspects to his personality, all of which fall into groups of five. Let's go through them all:
- He is known to be faultless in his five senses. (Guess he doesn't need glasses or anything.)
- His five fingers are extremely sure and dexterous.
- He puts all his earthly faith in the five wounds of Christ on the cross.
- Whenever he’s in battle, his thoughts are all on the five joys that Mary had in Jesus. (Gawain even has a picture of Mary painted on the inside of his shield, as a reminder.)
- The fifth group is kind of a grab-bag of virtues: Gawain is devoted to generosity, fellowship before all else, purity, courtesy, and, most important of all, charity
- Now that we've got that straight, let's get back to the story.
- Everyone says goodbye to Gawain, sure they'll never see him again.
- Gawain rides off on his horse.
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