Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Third Stanzas 20 22 Summary

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Study Guide

Pearl Poet

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Fytte the Third, Stanzas 20–22 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Third, Stanza 20

Bertilak discusses his challenging hunt, and Gawain commends him. They handle the boar's head. Gawain receives the game, and he gives Bertilak two kisses in return—what he's received that day. Bertilak jokes that Gawain will soon be rich.

Fytte the Third, Stanza 21

The castle residents celebrate and sing Christmas carols over dinner. The Lady of Hautdesert sends flirty glances to Gawain all night. He responds politely, though he's amazed and tempted to reprimand her.

Fytte the Third, Stanza 22

Bertilak proposes the same arrangement for the next day, New Year's Eve. Gawain thinks it's time for him to leave—it's almost New Year's day. Bertilak promises Gawain will make it to the green chapel on time no matter what. He's found Gawain faithful twice, and the third time will be the best. They should be joyful while they can, because trouble always waits. Gawain agrees to stay; he rests well that night, and Bertilak rises early to hunt.

Analysis

Although Bertilak tells Gawain about the dramatic difficulty of the hunt, Gawain keeps quiet about how he received his winnings. He says only that they're even. They both fought equally hard.

Gawain is still described as "courteous" and "a warrior" in Fytte the Third, Stanza 20: he is still doing his duty as a guest.

Even though her husband is home and within sight, the Lady of Hautdesert continues the game with Gawain in Fytte the Third, Stanza 21; even the narrator calls her "outrageous." The reader and Gawain don't yet know the extent to which Bertilak and his wife have planned their actions together, yet this stanza bears some similarities to Fytte the First: Christmas merriment, a time of free-flowing wine, "mannerly mirth," and seemingly innocent games. This time around Gawain realizes he's in danger, despite the festivities. He is growing increasingly anxious over his upcoming duel with the Green Knight—so anxious, it takes his mind off the challenge within the castle.

In Fytte the Third, Stanza 22, Gawain tries to get out of the "exchange of winnings" game, but Bertilak won't let him. Bertilak also makes the ominous statement, "Make we merry while we may .../for a man can catch trouble whensoever he likes." This statement may sound like a simple nod to the human predicament—circumstances can always change, for better or worse. But it also indicates to the reader that more troubles are coming for Gawain. For his part, Gawain does not put up much resistance to the idea of staying another night. He's tempted by the idea of proving himself faithful to Bertilak three times and inclined to delay his fate by staying longer. This is the first time Bertilak states or hints how he's testing Gawain—"I have tried thee twice." Naturally, once Gawain knows he's on trial, he will want to succeed.

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