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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis

The Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem written in the 16th century and has an English origin. It is about a knight serving during King Arthur’s regime; he accepts to fight a mysterious green warrior known as the Green Knight. The fight is scheduled for New Year’s Day; and Gawain leaves for the Green Chapel where it will happen. On his way, he is hosted by Bertilaka, the lord of a castle that he runs into during his journey.

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Part three of this poem is about the three days before the fight; that Gawain spends in a castle before he proceeds to the green chapel to meet the green knight on New Year’s Day. On the first day the lord goes hunting, the hunting party is well described, as they walk through the dense winter forest and run after deers.

The play then changes scene to daybreak; it describes Gawain in his bedroom, lying in his bed when a lovely lady from the castle walks in and sits on his bed and she stares at him. Gawain pretends to be asleep as he waits to see the lady’s intentions. He then wakes up and pretends to be surprised to find her there, a conversation between the two follows in which Gawain tries to avoid the lady’s sexual advances. She threatens to imprison Gawain if he refuses to listen to her; Gawain tells her of his skills as a knight, but she tells him that their sexual encounter will be a secret. Gawain assures the lady that he would be honored to accept the lady‘s body but he tells her that she is far much good for him but she says to him that given a chance, she would choose him as the husband. They continue arguing until mid-morning but Gawain completely refuses to give in; the lady requests for a kiss, Gawain accepts and then she leaves and then he spends the rest of the day at mass. Meanwhile, the hunting party is slaughtering the deers and cutting the bodies in preparation to give them to Gawain who praises the Lord for his hunting skills. The Lord gives him the meat and Gawain in return gives him the sweet kiss that he got from the lady but he does not tell him where it is from. They spend the evening together talking and decide to continue with the agreement of exchanging winnings.

The second day also starts with the hunting party’s journey to the woods to hunt a big fearless boar; they are injured and tired as they follow in their pursuit for the animal. In the castle, the lady of the castle visits Gawain again and welcomes her. She is angry because Gawain does not kiss her but Gawain says he did not know she wanted it and also he did not want to force her. She tells him to teach her about love but he tells her that she already knows a lot about it. She then continues with her sexual advances but Gawain refuses and instead receives her two kisses. Meanwhile, the hunters continue with the struggle, and the boar they find hides itself in a pool of water. The lord goes into the waters to fight with the beast; he wins by piercing it with his sword in the heart. The party goes back to the castle, and as usual, he gives the game to Gawain who in turn gives him the two kisses; the Lord urges him to stay one more day so that they can extend their contract of exchanging winnings. “He intones ominously: “For I’ve tested you twice, my friend, and found you faithful, But it’s always the third strike that counts” (Black, et al, 45), Gawain accepts the offer.

The third day too begins with the hunting party struggling to kill a cunning fox that keeps disappearing from them. In the castle, the lady goes to Gawain‘s bedroom in a very revealing dress, wakes him from his deep sleep, and kisses him. The lady then asks him to leave her something to remind her of him. “Gawain says he has nothing: the lady offers him a gold ring which he refuses, she then gives him a green silk tunic which he still refuses but she tells him that whoever wears it cannot die and he then accepts to keep it because of the upcoming competition between him and the Green Knight” (Black, et al, 235). The lady then gives him another two kisses after which Gawain leaves to meet the priest for confession. The hunting party meanwhile has managed to kill the fox and as usual, the Lord gives it to Gawain in exchange for the three kisses from the lady. The next morning the lord offers Gawain a guide to escort him to the green chapel for the girdle.

This section of the poem has three major themes: temptations, hunting, and seduction, nature, and chivalry; games and seasons are also included slightly. The writer uses literacy skills such as symbolism in the poem: some of the symbols used are the green color, the green cloth, the green knight, the ring, the wounds, and the pentangle among others.

This part of the poem has been set carefully; the three days events have also been structured in similar ways. In the three days, there are drama scenes both in the castle and outside; Sir Gawain is being hunted by a lady while the party hunts the animals. The intention of the writer is to put into parallel the two hunting events, therefore, creating an analogy. “The very masculine pursuit of animals is thus equated to the lady’s very feminine sexual pursuit of this chivalric hero” (Black, et al, 185). The lady tests the knight’s courtesy and chastity through her arguments which are deceitful and extremely convincing, varying from complex and subtle sentences to coarse propositions. She also alludes to a very weird religious or political system by saying that she owns Gawain through God’s graces.

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The society system expects that Gawain respects her because she is from a different and higher social class than him; this puts him to test because he is required to obey her, and hence give into her sexual advances but then he has to observe chastity to win the girdle. An ethical dilemma comes up when he decides to take the green garment because he is supposed to face the Green knight with courage, not magic, but he also wants to protect his life so he is tempted to carry the cloth.

The language used especially by Gawain and the lady is metaphoric, and is linked largely to hunting, for example, he says to the lady “I surrender my arms at once and sue for kind treatment” (Black, et al, 235).

Work cited:

Black, Joseph, et al. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. Toronto: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 13). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 13). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis. https://studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/

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"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis." StudyCorgi, 13 Dec. 2021, studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis." December 13, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/.


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StudyCorgi. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis." December 13, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis." December 13, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-part-three-analysis/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Part Three Analysis'. 13 December.

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