Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Second Stanzas 1 2 Summary

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Study Guide

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Fytte the Second, Stanzas 1–2 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Second, Stanza 1

Fytte the Second begins by recalling the Green Knight's game at the previous New Year's celebration. But, the narrator says, a lot can change in a year. The beginning rarely matches the end.

As the year progresses, the winter weather transitions from Yule to Lent (the Christian church season leading up to Easter), then spring and summer. The growth of plants, from flower to seed, is detailed.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 2

The weather changes again, from autumn to winter. For a plant, "All ripes and rots," and the grass turns gray. As winter returns, Gawain thinks anxiously of his upcoming journey.

Analysis

The narrator describes the weather in such great detail because it mirrors the characters' inner states. In the spring and summer the world is beautiful and easy to live in—and Gawain is relieved because his challenge is still far away.

Nature and the natural world act in the poem as a way to measure time. The timetable of nature is constantly changing, just like men's fates. Green, the Green Knight's color, comes to life in the spring, when "green are the garments both of fields and of groves." Green is associated with renewal and life, instead of death.

Church holidays and their meanings also measure time in the poem. Yule and Lent are holidays in the Christian calendar—the first a time of celebration, the second a time of repentance.

The Christian calendar sets Christmas and Yule celebrations in the winter—times of happiness and reverence. This time, the celebration will be mixed with anxiety and soul searching for Gawain. It is November already, and he still has not left on his journey.

The fate of the plants in Fytte the Second, Stanza 2 is similar to Gawain's fate. A plant flourishes under the "blissful glance of the bright sun" but hardens with the harvest. As winter comes, its leaves fall. Just as the plant suffers when "winter returns again without asking any man," Gawain suffers under a fate that is somewhat out of his control, as he's already accepted the challenge and won't turn back.

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