Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Fourth Stanzas 8 10 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 8–10 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 8

Gawain rides down the path the servant showed him, but sees only rocks and crags—no sign of a chapel. He notices a grassy spot by the bank of a stream and leads his horse there. He ties Gringolet to a tree and searches on foot. He finds an old, hollow cave, overgrown with grass. The cave looks to Gawain like a place where the devil worships at midnight.

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 9

Gawain thinks the ugly setting fits the Green Knight. He feels in his "five wits" that the Green Knight has sent him here to destroy him. As he rides up to the cave, he hears "a marvellously savage noise" of an axe being sharpened on a grindstone. Gawain imagines the axe must be for him, but he won't let fear overcome him.

Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 10

Gawain calls out to announce himself. The Green Knight calls out in response, but sharpens his axe for a while longer before he comes down. It's a Danish axe, four feet long. The Green Knight looks as menacing as he did before. He hops over the stream and Gawain bows to him. The Green Knight says Gawain can be trusted in a covenant.

Analysis

The Green Knight's home is compared in Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 8, to a place of worship for the devil, aligning the Green Knight with the Christian Gawain's idea of evil. Other imagery in the poem adds to the feeling of otherworldly danger. The crags have "projecting" or protruding stones, the cliffs give off shadows, the banks are steep, and the sense of isolation seems complete.

Gawain still doesn't turn back. The narrative seems in Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 9 to be setting him up to win, not to lose. He's bravely moving forward in the face of overwhelming odds, and in this confrontation of good and evil, the imagery paints Gawain as the good one.

The Green Knight is using both nature and industry for a monstrous effect. He's intimidating Gawain with the sound of the axe and the tools used to sharpen the axe. The eerie natural setting combines with the noise to induce fear, but Gawain senses he's being manipulated and refuses to give in.

The Green Knight's supernatural powers are immediately evident in Fytte the Fourth, Stanza 10. Instead of wading through a body of water, he leaps right over. He continues to intimidate Gawain by lingering at the grindstone, making Gawain wait, and pacing with "savage ferocity."

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