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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

by Pearl-Poet

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Part 3, Verses 46–66, Lines 1126–1647 Summary

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Lord Bertilak takes his entourage hunting for venison. He observes seasonal traditions, such as sparing the stags, and acquires a hefty amount of meat, which he brings home at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Lady Bertilak enters Gawain’s room. Initially, he pretends to be asleep until he realizes she won’t leave and it would be foolish to continue pretending. When he wakes and feigns surprise, the two speak for a while, and Lady Bertilak attempts to seduce him. Gawain makes excuses and politely refuses her, without offense, and as she takes her leave of him, he gives her a kiss as courtesy requires. The rest of the day is spent at mass. 

At the end of the day, Lord Bertilak returns and gives Gawain the venison that he had acquired. Gawain is impressed, and when asked to give Bertilak what he has acquired, he gives the lord a kiss but refuses to tell him where he got the kiss from, since that was not part of the rules.

The next day, Lord Bertilak and his hunters track and kill a mighty boar, though not without it having killed several hounds first. Bertilak himself had to slay the boar with his sword, and they return home with the beast.

In Gawain’s chambers, Lady Bertilak returns and tries even harder to seduce Gawain, who continues to refuse. They spar with words, and Lady Bertilak responds to Gawain’s more direct refusal but saying that with his strength, he could get whatever he wanted from her. Gawain states that such behavior is not admired nor appropriate where he’s from. When she leaves him, two kisses are exchanged.

At the end of the day, Bertilak gives Gawain the boar, and Gawain gives him two kisses. Bertilak is satisfied with the exchange.

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Part 2, Verses 35–45, Lines 811–1125 Summary


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