Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Study Guide

Pearl Poet

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



Fytte the Third, Stanza 1

Bertilak wakes up early the next morning, along with the other castle guests who plan to hunt. They eat, attend Mass, and saddle their horses quickly. A hundred of the best hunters mount their horses, send their hounds ahead of them, and ride into the forest.

Fytte the Third, Stanza 2

The hunters follow the female deer. Bertilak has forbidden hunting the male deer "in the close season" because of their increased aggression. The alert hunters are able to shoot the deer easily, with help from their greyhounds. They have success throughout the day.


In Fytte the Third, Stanzas 1 and 2, the hunt outside will parallel Gawain's adventures inside.

Each animal symbolizes a different temptation or challenge for Gawain. When Bertilak hunts the female deer (the hind), Gawain is tempted by lust. When Bertilak hunts the boar, Gawain is tempted by pride. When Bertilak hunts the fox, Gawain is challenged by the cunning of the Lady of Hautdesert.

The female deer, or hind, gives the reader the first hint of the competition between masculine and feminine desires, which threads through Fytte the Third. The male deer are associated with aggressive tendencies and wrath; the female deer are meek and defenseless. "Dazed for dread," they run into the glades, and the hunters catch them quickly. The remaining female deer are "pestered at the heights" and "worried at the waters"—no match for the male hunters.

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