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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Lines 928-994)

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Lines 928-994)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale that was written in the fourteenth century. It is an intriguing tale including romance, magic, action, and betrayal. The story opens with a Christmas celebration in which King Arthur refuses to eat until he hears a knightly tale or receives a challenge. The Green Knight enters the scene, and King Arthur receives his challenge. The challenge is a strike for a strike, and the prize is the Green Knight's axe. Sir Gawain is the noble knight who accepts the challenge, so at the same time the following year, he must find the Green Knight and keep his word. Throughout the tale, there are a number of mystical references that foreshadow the ending of the poem. The mystical aura of the Green Knight is the first hint of magic in the poem, but there are also other events suggesting that there is more to this tale than meets the eye.

After a year, Sir Gawain begins his quest for the Green Knight. It is not an easy task, and he runs into a number of obstacles on his way. As Christmas Day nears, Sir Gawain "fear[s] for his default" (Norton 750) and prays that he can just hear mass on Christmas day. Almost instantaneously, he stumbles upon "a castle as comely as a knight could own, on grounds fair and green" (767-768), where he is welcomed kindly. The reader is given the impression that this is a magical castle because of its description and the fact that it appears out of nowhere. Furthermore, everyone in the castle appears to know that Sir Gawain is a great Knight of the Round Table, and he is welcomed heartily. Through these insignificant details, the author arouses suspicions within the reader, subtly hinting that this is not a normal castle.

Sir Gawain's prayers are answered in the passage beginning at line 928. It is Christmas Eve, and the chaplains are ringing the church bells as the humble knight attends mass with the lord of the castle.
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