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Sir Gawain Preparing Himself and His Neck

Sir Gawain Preparing Himself and His Neck

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by an anonymous fourteenth-century poet, describes the Arthurian legend about the Green Knight’s game with Sir Gawain. Now almost a year passes since the Green Knight has started a friendly challenge of a blow for a blow. And it is time for Sir Gawain to prepare and to meet the Green Knight to receive his strike. Sir Gawain sees how the people around him care for him and wish he didn’t have to go. He probably feels that the first part of the game wasn’t completely fair, because the beheaded Green Knight survived what a mortal man cannot. Nevertheless, Sir Gawain acts like a true honorable knight and decides to face his destiny:

'Why should I tarry?'

And smiled with tranquil eye;

'In destinies sad or merry,

True men can but try.' (Norton 561 - 565) Click here to listen to this monologue

Realizing that he is just human and is predestined for a test he isn’t fully aware of, the only thing he can do is to do his best and not worry about the outcome.

Sir Gawain decides to fully prepare himself for this ordeal and goes alone to pray humbly to G-d. He feels very humbled now, more than before when he was willing to take the Green Knight’s challenge after Arthur had already accepted it. Now he realizes that what seemed like a sure thing doesn’t always turn out that way and that he has to take responsibility for his actions.

Sir Gawain prepares for the journey and takes his favorite horse, Gringolet, with him. Gringolet is his special horse, and for this special occasion, he is honored with many golden fringes everywhere, perhaps for Gawain to feel more angelic as he leaves his life behind:

By then Gringolet was grit with saddle

That was gaily agleam with fine gilt fringe,

New-furbished for the need with nail-heads bright;

The bridle and the bars bedecked all with gold. (Norton, 597 - 600)

His horse is his only companion on his long way to the Green Chapel.

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