Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Principles Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line). We used James Winny's 2004 translation.
"I am at your commandment to act on your bidding,
As I am duty bound to in everything, large or small,
(1039 - 1041)
Gawain puts himself at the disposal of his host in everything, something which both of his codes of conduct - courtoisie, and chivalry - require him to do. Since he has accepted the hospitality of Lord Bertilak, in courtesy he owes him a debt of gratitude as a guest. And since Lord Bertilak outranks Gawain, he becomes a substitute liege lord of sorts in Arthur’s absence, to whom he owes the same obedience and loyalty.
"A verbal agreement was settled between us
To meet that man at that place, should I be alive,
And before that New Year little time now remains;
And I would face that man, if God would allow me,
More gladly, by God’s son, than come by great wealth."
(1060 - 1064)
Gawain’s eagerness to make his appointment with the Green Knight is quite striking. How often do you hear someone say that they’d much rather meet their likely murderer than strike it rich? This passage just goes to show how seriously Gawain takes his knightly honor.
"Everything I ever promised you I shall readily give."
This is Lord Bertilak’s response to Gawain’s request for a man to lead him to the Green Chapel. It becomes ironic in light of the ending, when we learn that Sir Bertilak is also the Green Knight. Lord Bertilak might also be referring to his promise to return the stroke Gawain gave him in Arthur’s court one year ago.