Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Characters
The main characters in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight include Sir Gawain, the Green Knight, Lady Bertilak, and Morgan le Fay.
- Sir Gawain is a knight in King Arthur's court. He accepts the Green Knight's challenge.
- The Green Knight proposes the challenge to the court. He later humbles Gawain and reveals himself to be Lord Bertilak under the influence of Morgan le Fay.
- Lady Bertilak is Lord Bertilak's wife, who attempts to seduce Gawain and gives him the green girdle, which will supposedly protect him.
- Morgan le Fay disguises herself as the old crone in Lord Bertilak's castle.
Last Updated on January 4, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 512
Arthur is the legendary king of Britain at whose court the story begins. Husband of Guinevere and uncle of Gawain, he presides over the famed Knights of the Round Table at Camelot, who are the subject of numerous medieval romances. Some scholars believe he was originally a tribal chieftain in Britain, while others trace him to a solar deity.
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Guinevere is the wife of Arthur. According to legend, she had an affair with Sir Lancelot, which brought about the fall of the Round Table. Her adversary is the enchantress Morgan le Fay, who, we learn at the end of the poem, conjured the Green Knight in order to terrify Guinevere.
Gawain is the nephew of Arthur and a knight. He accepts the challenge of the Green Knight, whom he must behead, then seek out next year.
The bishop is a religious figure who, in the beginning of the poem, sits next to King Arthur.
The Duke of Clarence
The duke attends the feast in the beginning of the poem.
Sir Ywain, Sir Eric, Sir Dodinal le Sauvage, Sir Bors, Sir Bedivere,
Sir Lionel, Sir Lucan the Good and Sir Mador de la Porte
These men are Knights of the Round Table.
Sir Agravain á la dure main
Agravain is a knight and Gawain’s brother.
Lancelot is a knight who has an affair with Queen Guinevere.
The Green Knight
The Green Knight is a mysterious man in green whom Gawain, in response to a challenge, beheads and must later seek at the Green Chapel.
Gringolet is the horse of Gawain.
Bertilak is the lord of the castle of Hautdesert, where Gawain stays on his way to find the Green Knight. At the end of the story, he is revealed to be the Green Knight himself.
Lady Bertilak is the wife of Lord Bertilak, who tries to seduce Gawain three times while her husband is away. When Gawain refuses her advances, she gives him a sash, which she says has the magical property of preserving him from harm from weapons. When Gawain first sees Lady Bertilak, she is accompanied by an old crone, Morgan le Fay, and some scholars maintain the two women are different incarnations of a single person.
Old Crone / Morgan le Fay
The old crone is the woman who accompanies Lady Bertilak when Gawain first arrives at Castle Hautdesert. She appears as ugly as her younger companion is beautiful. The Green Knight later tells Gawain that he had been conjured by Morgan le Fay to frighten her adversary, Queen Guinevere. Morgan is closely associated with Lady Bertilak, and some scholars think they are the same. In Arthurian romances in general, Morgan is a powerful and ambivalent sorceress, who often lays temptations for the knights of King Arthur. Scholars believe she was originally a goddess of the sea.
A servant who accompanies Gawain from Castle Hautdesert to the Green Knight. He tells Gawain how ruthless the Green Knight is, then turns back in fear.
Last Updated on January 3, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 338
Sir Gawain is the bravest, most virtuous of the Knights of the Round Table. He accepts the Green Knight’s challenge to uphold the honor of Arthur’s court and sets out in autumn on the quest that is essentially a test of his virtue. Temptation awaits him at the castle of Bertilak de Hautdesert, where he must resist the amorous attentions of his hostess without violating the courtesy he owes her as her guest and, at the same time, keep his bargain with his host to exchange whatever he receives at home for the game Bertilak kills while he hunts. Gawain is faithful for two days, but on the third he succumbs to his fear for his life and accepts from the lady a green girdle that protects its wearer from injury. This very human lapse brings him a mild wound from the Green Knight, and he returns to Arthur’s court a chastened, shamefaced hero.
King Arthur is the merry young ruler of Britain, who is prepared to fight for his own cause if none of his knights will challenge the Green Knight.
Guinevere is Arthur’s beautiful young queen and the object of Morgan le Fay’s hatred.
Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert
Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert is the good-humored nobleman who is Gawain’s host. An avid sportsman and lover of good entertainment, he proposes to Gawain an exchange of the gains of each day as amusement for both of them; the bargain is in reality a part of his test of the knight’s virtue, for it is he who is disguised as the Green Knight by the arts of Morgan le Fay.
Lady Bertilak de Hautdesert
Lady Bertilak is Lord Bertilak’s charming wife and accomplice in the temptation of Gawain.
Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, learned her skills in magic from Merlin. She is said to have plotted the appearance of the Green Knight at Arthur’s court to frighten her enemy, Guinevere.