The Green Knight worked under his own set of rules, and like a growing tree, man had, and still has, no control over when the tree would leaf or bloom, or how long it’s branches would grow. The Green Knight, like nature, has to be understood before it can be dealt with, and even then, you are not guaranteed success. You need to know how he thinks, and play your cards right, in order to come out of the fight successfully. At first Sir Gawain was on the right path, but throughout his journey, he became sidetracked and due to that, he brought shame unto himself, and to the court of King Arthur. The story begins with a New Year’s feast at Arthur’s court in Camelot.
All the knights and ladies gather to exchange gifts, and to eat and be merry. Everyone is laughing and having a good time, while Arthur amuses them with stories of courageous knights. The first course is served, and the guests are about to eat, when a knight, dressed totally in green, rides into the dining hall. The knight is very large, well-dressed, and imposing. It seems that he has come in peace, due to the absence of his armor and shield.
The Green Knight’s connection to nature is emphasized when he is presented holding a “holly bob. . . That is goodliest in green when groves are bare”(206-7).
His closeness to nature is also apparent when the color of the knight is described as “green as the grass”(235). The Green Knight has a challenge, and he demands to speak to the head of the court. King Arthur, being the head of the court, answers the call of the Green Knight. The Green Knight proceeds to tell Arthur that it is his court who are the best and most noble knights in the land, and he has come here with a challenge. He begins to taunt Arthur’s knights, and King Arthur becomes outraged and accepts the strangers challenge.
The Green Knight will allow someone to strike him with an ax, as long as they agree to find him in one year to accept the return blow. Before King Arthur can chop the Green Knight’s head off, Sir Gawain stands up, and asks if he can replace the King instead. The court agrees to let Gawain take the challenge, so Gawain swings the ax, and chops off the knight’s head. As soon as his head gets chopped off, the Knight picks it up and mounts his horse.
He tells Gawain to meet him at his house, the Green Chapel on New Year’s Day the following year. He rides away, and the court proceeds to finish their feast. I guess the court is used to people having their heads chopped off, and then riding away on their horse. An excellent line in this poem was the line “The blood gushed from the body, bright on the green”(428). The red obviously, symbolizes blood, but it is interesting how the author takes time to tell how the red and green contrast.
I see the contrast as blood, which is a certainty-a certainty of death, and the green, as the unpredictable nature, which is also death in many forms. Time goes by, and the seasons pass, as well as the year. Sir Gawain gets ready for his departure from King Arthur’s court in the fall. On his neck he has a pentangle, which is a five- pointed star. It is also called the endless knot, and it’s five points symbolize the 5 senses, the 5 fingers, the 5 wounds of .