Literature Study GuidesSir Gawain And The Green KnightFytte The Third Stanzas 23 24 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 23–24 | Summary

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Summary

Fytte the Third, Stanza 23

Bertilak and his men hunt a fox in a field. They chase the wily Reynard (a generic name for foxes) through groves and ditches. Once he's surrounded, Reynard runs into the wood.

Fytte the Third, Stanza 24

The hounds cry loudly on Reynard's trail. The hunters excitedly pursue the fox, but he's crafty, hiding and revealing himself as he runs.

Back at the castle Gawain rests, but the Lady of Hautdesert has other plans for him. Decorated in jewels and dressed seductively, she tries to wake Gawain.

Analysis

Reynard the fox was actually a common animal in medieval European tales: Reynard is intelligent, sly, and tricky, but cowardly and selfish. He puts his own survival before all else. Reynard represents the desire for survival at the expense of cheating someone else; the same flaw Gawain will show. The fox is a more crafty opponent than the boar. He runs through groves and hedges, making the hounds work hard to catch him.

Fytte the Third, Stanza 24 introduces the final stage in the game and the most difficult one. The hunters call the fox "thief," offended by how skilled the animal is at eluding them. The hounds call out more loudly than ever. The cadence of the poem changes to suggest a quick chase, using short lines: "now in [the hills],/now over,/now under."

Meanwhile, the Lady of Hautdesert is waking up Gawain with more certainty and true affection. She opens a window and encourages him to start the day. When the narrator references "the purpose that bode in her heart," the reader can tell she wants the third day to be the one in which she talks Gawain into having an affair.

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