Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Second Stanzas 8 11 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 8–11 | Summary



Fytte the Second, Stanza 8

Gawain spurs Gringolet and rides off. The members of Arthur's court lament Gawain's departure on a quest they are sure will kill him. They wish Arthur had been more cautious and given Gawain a position of leadership, making him stay at home. Instead, Gawain is "given over to an elvish man" just for bragging rights, because Arthur listened to the Green Knight. Meanwhile, Gawain's long and difficult journey begins.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 9

Gawain rides through the realm of Logres. He has many lonely nights with no one to talk to but his horse. As he rides through Wales, Anglesey, and the wilderness of Wirrel, he asks the few people he meets if they've heard of the green knight and the green chapel. No one has.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 10

Gawain rides through the cliffs and mountains of strange countries. He battles animals, savages, and giants, more than the narrator can describe. The winter weather is even worse than the battles: Gawain sleeps outside, freezing.

On Christmas Eve, he prays to Mary to lead him to a place to stay.

Fytte the Second, Stanza 11

In the morning, Gawain rides through a deep, wild forest. He continues to pray for shelter at Christmas so he can attend Mass. He mourns his trials and his sins.


The sentiment in the court when Gawain departs in Fytte the Second, Stanza 8 seems to be that Arthur has failed his knight. The members of Arthur's court are alarmed by the Green Knight and his dangerous challenge. Their frustration isn't with the respected Gawain but with Arthur, who is the higher-ranking member of the court and has a responsibility to protect his men from harm if he can. Instead, by legitimizing the Green Knight's challenge, Arthur put Gawain in harm's way.

Gawain, however, is leaving bravely. Like the Green Knight's horse, his horse moves forward so swiftly "the stone struck out fire after him."

Gawain rides through different areas of ancient Britain in Fytte the Second, Stanzas 9–11 (including present-day England and Wales); he's beginning his hero's journey. And, because he can't find people who "loved either God or man with good heart," the reader can assume he's running into enemies. He set off with optimism and courage, but now "his cheer changed"—he is losing hope.

Although the narrator implies Gawain is having strange and exciting adventures—running into foul enemies and finding "marvels in the mountains"—the writing skims over all of these adventures. The focus of the poem will be on a different part of the journey, where Gawain is tested in more internal and psychological ways.

Because Gawain began his travels around November 1 (Allhallows Day), by Christmas Eve (the end of Fytte the Second, Stanza 10) he's been on the road for about two months.

Gawain travels through the forest and the woods, getting closer to the "strangely wild" untamed nature which the Green Knight represents. He rides through "rough ragged moss" and through the ominous, life-killing cold—through a setting not unlike the actual location of the green chapel. Combating with a prayer both nature and the paganism it represents, Gawain longs to participate in the rituals of Christianity and civilization again.

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