Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Once again the Lady of the House visits Gawain. What does she want him to teach her (l. 1530)? What is his response? Did it surprise you (l. 1548)? How does Gawain’s response fit with the code of chivalry?

part three


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A careful dialogue follows between Gawain and the lady, where he delicately and diplomatically evades and parries her sexual advances. First, the lady threatens flirtatiously to keep him prisoner; then praising his greatness as a knight, she assures Gawain that their situation is secret and offers her body to him. Gawain replies that he is "certainly honored" (Gardner l. 1247), but declares himself wholly unworthy for a lady as good as her. The lady denies this and replies that if she were to choose any husband, she would choose Gawain himself. Gawain tells her that she has done better already, subtly reminding her of her own husband, and their pleasant conversation continues until mid-morning. As she is about to leave him, she asks for a kiss, and Gawain, as befits the chivalrous knight, grants her that. The rest of the day Gawain spends at mass and then in the company of the two ladies of the castle.