Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Part three.

 what is the result of the bargain gawain and the lord of the house ?


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The lady then offers him a green silk tunic, which he at first refuses, but then she reveals that whoever wears the green girdle cannot be killed. Aware of his impending meeting with the Green Knight, Gawain accepts the girdle, which the lady begs to keep secret. After receiving a third kiss from her that morning, Gawain dresses, confesses his sins to a priest in preparation for his challenge the next day, and then spends the rest of the day in utter merriment. Meanwhile, after much dogged pursuit, the hunting party succeeds in stunning the wily fox, and the lord triumphantly captures the sly creature. That evening at the castle, Gawain gives the lord three kisses, who in turn gives him the lone product of the day's hard work, the "foul-smelling fox".

By secretly accepting the girdle and refusing to give it away, Gawain violates the agreement he had with his lord ­ thereby violating the chivalric code of honor that binds such contracts. It is not nearly as great a violation as adultery would have been, but it nevertheless shatters the code of chivalry which Gawain lives by. Thus, where the lady failed to seduce Gawain by appealing to his desire for sex, she succeeds by appealing to his desire to live. Both are basic animal instincts, and while Gawain can smother the one through his strong moral sense, he cannot ultimately ignore the other: the fear of death hangs too much on him. In this way, the idealistic Gawain finally allows himself to be guided by his own nature, and not by his sense of societal duty.