Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part Four, Verses 80-87, Lines 1998-2211 Summary and Analysis
by Pearl-Poet

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Part Four, Verses 80-87, Lines 1998-2211 Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Gawain’s Guide: servant who accompanies Gawain from the castle Haupdesert to the Green Knight

Gawain awakes on a bleak, snowy day. After summoning his guide to take him to the Green Chapel, he puts on his armor. Along with his coat, he wraps the green sash about him, then sets out on what he thinks will be his final journey.

As they approach the Green Chapel, the guide tells Gawain that he dares go no further. The Green Knight, he tells Gawain, is known for his fierceness and his cruelty. No man, the guide says, can stand up to the Green Knight in battle, and everyone who goes to the Green Chapel is killed.

The guide himself, he tells Gawain, dares to go no further. He advises Gawain as well to turn back, and says he will keep it a secret if Gawain does, even if he must swear solemnly to the lie. Though irritated, Gawain thanks the guide for his good wishes. He then declines the offer and insists on going on.

The guide gives Gawain a lance and helmet, then directs him to descend alone into a ravine. He hurries away, leaving Gawain to face the Green Knight alone. Gawain follows the path into a grim and desolate place, filled with huge, jagged rocks.

He comes to a large mound beside a stream. Dismounting, he tethers his horse to a tree. Approaching he finds a cavern, which, he thinks, could be a pagan temple.

Mounds in pre-Christian Britain and Ireland were often places of worship. In the folklore of the British Isles, they were dwelling places of fairies. These ambiguous creatures were considered capable of either generosity or cruelty.

Fairies were sometimes identified with both fallen angels, ghosts or pagan nature-spirits. While Victorian representations generally made fairies small, older folkloric descriptions made them the size of mortals or larger. At times they would be green like the adversary of Gawain.

Folkloric traditions...

(The entire section is 500 words.)