38 pages 1 hour read


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Fiction | Novel/Book in Verse | Adult | Published in 1397

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Part 4Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4 Summary

Gawain leaves before dawn, wearing the green girdle. A castle servant leads him to the top of a hill; before he leaves, he warns Gawain about the man who inhabits the valley below. Nevertheless, Gawain rides down into the valley, where he searches for some sign of a chapel. Noticing what looks like a small hill, Gawain approaches the hill and finds two tunnels leading inside. At that moment, he hears a sound some way up the cliffside and calls out. The Green Knight, who is sharpening his ax on a stone, emerges from behind a crag and joins Gawain on the valley floor.

The Knight congratulates Gawain on keeping his promise, and Gawain takes off his helmet and kneels. As the Knight swings his ax, Gawain glances up and flinches. The Green Knight reproves him, and Gawain tells him to strike again. The Knight does so, but feints at the last moment: “Then merrily does he mock him, the man all in green: ‘So now you have your nerve again, I needs must strike; / Uphold the high knighthood that Arthur bestowed” (2296-2297). Now angry, Gawain tells the Green Knight to strike him and be done with it. The Knight accordingly swings one final time, but he only nicks the side of Gawain’s neck.