Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Second Stanzas 12 15 Summary

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Study Guide

Pearl Poet

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Fytte the Second, Stanzas 12–15 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Second, Stanza 12

After Gawain prays, he finds a dwelling on a hill, hidden behind huge trees. It's a beautiful castle on a prairie. Gawain says a prayer of thanks and rides to the bridge, but the gates are locked.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 13

Gawain waits on the bank and observes the castle—its high halls, battlements, and towers with beautiful architecture. The pinnacles are so thick and detailed that they appear "cut out of paper."

Gawain calls out and a porter comes to meet him.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 14

The porter offers to speak to the lord of the house on Gawain's behalf, and tells Gawain he's welcome to stay in the meantime. The residents of the castle open the gate for Gawain and receive him into the hall with enthusiasm. Gawain greets the knights and the lord of the house, Bertilak de Hautdesert. Bertilak tells him he can treat the castle as his own, and the two embrace.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 15

Gawain is impressed by Bertilak, a large warrior with a bright beard and "a face as fierce as fire." Servants escort Gawain to an elegant chamber and give him robes to wear.

Analysis

The setup in Fytte the Second, Stanza 12 seems almost too miraculous, like a fairy tale. Just as Gawain prays for a chapel, he comes upon one. His arrival at what will turn out to be the Green Knight's castle mirrors, in its structure, the Green Knight's own surprising arrival at Arthur's castle.

The details of the castle, like its sudden appearance, are almost too perfect to be true. The prominence of the color white, and the intricate details like paper cutouts, make the castle seem to be a mirage. And in a way it is. The castle and its inhabitants disguise their true nature from Gawain.

The lord of this castle, whose name the reader learns at the end of the poem, is Bertilak de Hautdesert. The name Hautdesert, referring to a forest or wild area, indicates isolation, loftiness, a distance from reality, and an affinity with nature. Repeated references to the castle's height or "high tide" indicate the castle is in the northern part of the country.

The glad welcome Gawain receives in Fytte the Second, Stanza 14 shows the chivalrous hospitality with which an esteemed knight is welcomed. Gawain doesn't know the host, and yet the inhabitants have been waiting for him.

The reader may have already noticed some similarities between Bertilak and the Green Knight. They both have impressive beards. They're both handsome in a fear-inspiring way and physically strong. They both command respect; Bertilak through confidence and royal bearing, "well suited indeed/to govern a nation of good people," and the Green Knight through his astonishing appearance and abilities.

The court members are just as impressed by Gawain as Gawain is by Bertilak. They even reference Christ. They know they're in the presence of someone extraordinary. And they later reveal they've heard of Gawain's sterling character and knightly skill, too. Can he live up to his reputation?

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