Study Guide

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2, Lines 491 - 690

By Anonymous

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Part 2, Lines 491 - 690

  • 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:
    1. He is known to be faultless in his five senses. (Guess he doesn't need glasses or anything.)
    2. His five fingers are extremely sure and dexterous.
    3. He puts all his earthly faith in the five wounds of Christ on the cross.
    4. 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.)
    5. 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.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2, Lines 491 - 690 Study Group

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