Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Fourth Stanzas 4 7 Summary

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Study Guide

Pearl Poet

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Fytte the Fourth, Stanzas 4–7 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 4

The castle drawbridge drops and Gawain rides away. He and the servant go through banks, cliffs, and moors, all shrouded in mist. The path is dreary; it's still dark outside. On a hill, the servant calls Gawain aside to talk to him.

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 5

The servant says he's brought Gawain to the green chapel as he requested. But because he knows and loves Gawain, he has to say something. The Green Knight is "the worst upon earth," bigger than the best of Arthur's knights. He'll kill anyone who rides into the green chapel, even a monk or a priest. There's no way Gawain will survive.

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 6

The servant pleads with Gawain to disappear down another road to another country. He promises he'll never tell anyone Gawain fled. Gawain appreciates the concern for his well-being, but even if the servant keeps his promise (which Gawain believes he would), Gawain will always know himself to be a coward; he couldn't forgive himself. He'll put himself in the hands of fate, believing God will save him.

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 7

The servant says Gawain is responsible for his own destruction now—he won't help or stop him. The servant gives Gawain directions to the green chapel on the ravine. He'll go no further himself. As the servant rides away, Gawain entrusts himself to God and refuses to complain.

Analysis

In Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 4, the hills are personified: "each hill had a hat, a huge mist-cloak." The images paint a scene, in this case, of adventure and peril.

Even though Gawain is the hero of the poem, the narrator reminds the reader in Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 5 that Gawain's survival is not guaranteed. According to the servant, Gawain is about to fight a man with not only superior physical strength and size but no morals and no conscience. The specific mention of monks and priests implies the Green Knight's indifference to the religion at the center of Gawain's life. The beheading game is rigged.

It's not a great surprise to the reader when Gawain decides to go ahead with his quest in Fytte the First, Stanza 6. He's already ridden through rough terrain and taken the beheading challenge in the first place. But the promised powers of the green lace may have given Gawain false confidence. He's not tempted by the servant's offer to cover for him, though he understands why the servant would try to protect him. As a mortal, of course, he's made nervous by the thought of death. Gawain may believe himself to be under special protection from both God and the magic lace—superior to other human beings. This is an indication of pride and covetousness (he "covets" his own life strongly).

The servant's role, culminating in Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 7, is to remind readers of Gawain's human weakness and pride. Gawain may be the best knight to walk the earth, but he's still a mortal. Members of King Arthur's court had similar misgivings when Gawain first left—but they blamed Arthur, not Gawain. Now Gawain's determination seems foolhardy. But success is crucial to Gawain's identity: if he's called a coward, he loses his reputation and his self-image.

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