Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line). We used James Winny's 2004 translation.
Sir Gawain met the knight,
Made him a frosty bow;
The other said, "Good sir,
A man may trust your vow."
"Gawain," said that green man, "may God protect you!
You are indeed welcome, sir, to my place;
You have timed your journey as a true man should,
And you know the agreement between us."
(2235 - 2242)
The Knight’s statement that a man can trust Gawain’s vow must be sweet vindication for Gawain, since he’s so concerned with his code of honor and has worked so hard to make sure he finds the Knight in time for New Year’s. The Knight’s reference to Gawain’s knowledge of "the agreement between us" reminds the reader of the Knight’s care to make sure the terms of it are clear from the beginning.
"First I threatened you playfully with a pretence,
And avoided giving you a gash, doing so rightly
Because of the agreement we made on the first night,
When you faithfully and truly kept you pledged word,
Gave me all your winnings, as an honest man should.
That other feint, sir, I gave you for the next day,
When you kissed my lovely wife and gave me those kisses.
For both occasions I aimed at you two mere mock blows
True man must pay back truly,
Then he need nothing fear;
You failed me the third time
And took that blow therefore."
(2345 - 2356)
Here the Green Knight reveals that he is also Lord Bertilak, and that he has combined the two games between himself and Gawain into one. The results of the beheading game are dependent upon Gawain’s behavior in the exchange-of-winnings game. Technically, the Green Knight fulfills the terms of the beheading game because he does strike Gawain with his axe – it’s just that he chooses only to wound him rather than sever his head completely. This is important because the Knight states that "true man must pay back truly."