Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Let us repeat our agreement before going further,
First I entreat you, sir, that what is your name
You shall tell me truly, that I may believe you."
"In good faith," said that virtuous knight, "I am called Gawain,
Who deals you this blow, whatever happens after,
On this day next year to accept another from you
With what weapon you choose, and from no other person
(377 - 384)
It’s important to the Green Knight to learn Gawain’s name so that he knows who to hold accountable to their agreement. This provides Gawain with an incentive to keep their agreement, too, because he knows his reputation will be sullied should he default on it. The Knight also insists that Gawain repeat the terms of the agreement, probably so that Gawain can’t claim ignorance as an excuse after the fact.
. . . "You have fully repeated, in exact terms,
Without omission the whole covenant I put to the king;
Except that you shall assure me, sir, on your word,
That you will seek me yourself, wherever you think
I may be found upon earth, to accept such payment
As you deal me today before this noble gathering."
(392 - 397)
The Green Knight further invokes the rules of chivalry when he asks for Gawain’s word that he will seek him out in one year to receive his "payment." The Middle English term translated as "word" here is "trawthe," or troth, a loaded term that refers to a knight’s oath, or promise, which he must keep as a matter of honor. Also important in this passage is the Knight’s reference to the blow he will give Gawain as "such payment as you deal me today." This characterizes their game as an exchange of payments, a concept that will become very important later on in the tale.
"Yet further," said the man, "let us make an agreement:
Whatever I catch in the wood shall become yours,
And whatever mishap comes your way give me in exchange.
Dear sir, let us swap so, swear me that truly,
Whatever falls to our lot, worthless or better."
"By God," said the good Gawain, "I agree to that,
And your love of amusement pleases me much."
"If someone brings us a drink, it will be an agreement,"
Said the lord of that company.
(1105 - 1113)
In this scene, Gawain gets roped into another game. As in the exchange of blows he has agreed to with the Green Knight, according to the terms of Lord Bertilak’s proposal, the two men will exchange their "winnings" at the end of each day. Lord Bertilak will yield whatever he has hunted in the woods to Gawain in exchange for whatever Gawain has won in the hall. The two men seal their agreement with a drink.