Gawayne and the Green Knight

Question booklet



   If a question asks something, and then asks "why?", you must explain your answer to get the mark. Simply stating an opinion is not enough; you must justify it. This often involves quoting the text itself.


** When quoting from the poem, include the Canto, page number, and paragraph. (Canto I, page 2, paragraph 3). This makes it easier to find, when we mark.


   Each question is worth one point, unless otherwise stated. If a question asks for a number of examples, you must provide all of them for the mark. Half marks are given at the teacher's discretion.



Preface and Canto I


1. What is the translator apologizing for?

2. Who is "Rude Mars" and what does his being "unharnessed" mean?

3. What is the difference between a dame and a damsel?

4. Describe the atmosphere of this Christmas Day feast.

5. What are Lady Elfinhart and Sir Gawayne up to?

6. What has made King Arthur unhappy?

7. What lies close to Camelot?

8. Everyone at court is frightened by the sound of the fairy horn, all except Lady Elfinhart. Why might she

     be excited to hear it?

9. Gawayne responds to Lady Elfinhart's request for two reasons. List them.

10. According to the author, what is the difference between modern and old Britain?

11. The Green Knight appears at court rather rudely, and yet when he speaks, he addresses King Arthur with

       all due respect and courtesy. What does this suggest about his character?

12. What sort of adventure does he offer, serious or light-hearted?

13. What exactly is this adventure?

14. Do the answers to the previous two questions match? Name the poetic device exemplified by this.

15. Considering how Arthur's knights (other than Gawayne) react to the Green Knight's challenge, was

       Arthur right about his knights?

16. What further evidence is there that Elfinhart knows more about this situation than the others there?

17. The author spends an entire stanza describing Lady Elfinhart's beauty, and even explains why he does

       this. What is his reasoning?

18. The author explains his unwillingness to reveal everything up front. What is it?

19. What is Gawayne's major concern, seeing that nobody will take up the Green Knight's challenge?

20. Elfinhart asks Gawayne to take up the challenge. Her behavior in the most is paradoxical. How so?

21. Gawayne is willing to do what Elfinhart asks, but he wants to know one thing. What is it?

22. Why is the answer to Gawayne's question important to him, and to us?

23. Who is the first to take up the challenge, and why?

24. The Green Knight seems disappointed by this person's willingness to take up the challenge, and others in

       the court seem happy when Gawayne eventually volunteers, Why would everyone be so pleased to see

       that first volunteer step back?

25. Based on the conversation between Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight before the blow is struck, is this

      a fair deal? Why or why not?






26. The author spends some time talking about the art of poetry, and how one does not show a background

      episode until sometime after the start of the story. Why do you think this is?

27. Explain how and why Elfinhart ended up with the fairies.

28. Elfinhart, raised by the fairies, learns four important virtues. Name them.

29. How long does Elfinhart live in Fairyland?

30. Why does she choose to leave Fairyland? (Two reasons.)

31. Why does the author insist on including morals in the story?

32. The fairies seem to distrust men, and they have a solution, should a man pursue Elfinhart. What is it?

33. The fairies choose Sir Lancelot of the Lake as the first mortal man Elfinhart meets. Considering what the

       fairies think of mortal men, why choose him? (You will need to look this up elsewhere. HINT: read the

       first stanza on pg 15).

34. How long is it between Elfinhart's arrival in Camelot, and the arrival of the Green Knight?

35. What was it Gawayne talked to Elfinhart about, at the Christmas feast?

36. Gawayne obviously loves Lady Elfinhart, and at the Christmas feast, he tries to woo her. Why then

      does he talk about troubled times, and his part in them?

37. The Fairy Queen comes to Lady Elfinhart. They argue about the idea of love. What does the queen say

      about the love of mortal women?
 38. What does Lady Elfinhart say about fairy love?





39. Who are the three Muses named in the poem?

40. Why is the author calling out to them for help?

41. Are the muses male or female?

42. The author says he has courted all nine muses, and so won none. Explain the author's meaning.

43. At the beginning of the poem, in the Preface, the author explained that his words were not as impressive

      as those of the Mantuan Bard. Now we know why. Explain the author's problem.

44. The year passes by, and in mid-December, Gawayne prepares to ride to the Green Chapel at the edge of

      the Murmuring Mere. Do the people of Camelot expect Gawayne to return? How do we know this?

45. How do we know that Elfinhart loves him?

46. During his journey, Gawayne comes across a great castle deep in the heart of a forest. He is a stranger to

      the people who live there. Why does the Baron of the castle give him shelter and food?

47. The Baron throws a great feast to welcome Gawayne. Gawayne explains his journey, and asks for a

       guide to show him the way to the Green Chapel by the Murmuring Mere. He says the guide shall

       receive no "golden guerdon." What is this?

48. What will be the guide's reward?

49. The Baron points out that Gawayne has to wait three days before confronting the Green knight. His   

       suggestion alarms Gawayne. Why?

50. What does the above answer suggest about the Baron?

51. The next morning, as the Baron rides off for a hunt, a page bring Gawayne two things; a collection of

       items, and an invitation. Describe both.

52. The author spends some of the first stanza on page 22 comparing the bower to other images of beauty

      from other stories. (Acrasia's Bower of Bliss, Phaedria's happy island, etc.) Considering the author's

      opinion of his own writing, why do this?

53. The Baron's lady asks Gawayne to do something while he is with her. What is it?

54. The lady's request sounds rather familiar. Where have we heard of these ideas before?

55. The Lady makes Gawayne forget all of his troubles, and remember only love. What has the Lady and   

       her bower done to Gawayne?

56. By now, Gawayne knows what the lady is. What is she?

57. (4 points) Gawayne, sitting in the lady's bower, has a vision. What happens (in detail) in the vision?

58. The lady's effects on Gawayne are shaken off as soon as Gawayne touches Elfinhart's holly. What does

       this say about true love, and fairy magic?

59. During Gawayne's first night at the castle, the Baron said that on the following night, after he had

      hunted, the Baron and Gawayne would exchange all they had gained that day. When that night comes

      (after the episode on the bower) what do the Baron and Sir Gawayne give each other?

60. Why do both the Baron and Gawayne consider the kiss to be of more worth than the boar?

61. Why does the Baron's wife seem less beautiful during the feast, than she did when he saw her in her


62. Gawayne spends the next day wandering around the castle. He spends some time reading gravestones in

      the castle's tomb, including one that starts "Where he lies, and gray wave breaks…" What is it about this

      particular tombstone that gets his attention?

63. When he is confronted by the Lady, she asks him for a token to remember him by. Why can he not give

      her a token of remembrance?

64. What does the Lady give Gawayne for protection? Describe it and its origin.
65. On his last night in the castle, Gawayne lies to his host, the Baron. What is this lie?

66. Gawayne has lied. How does this create tension for the reader?







67. What does the Baron say about the Green Knight?
68. Despite the fact that, somehow, both the Baron and his wife seem to be connected to the Green Knight,

      the Baron tries to convince Gawayne to abandon his quest. He tries to scare him with terrible stories,

      warns him that the Green Knight is unstoppable, and asks him outright to give up. If he is connected to

      the Green Knight, why would he do this?

69. The Green Chapel, in the way it is described, is a paradox. How?

70. Think back to question 11. Again, despite the fear the Green Knight creates around him (even the Baron

       fears him), he is very polite. He is a good host, and even offers Gawayne some tea. The Baron described 

       him as bloodthirsty and violent, and yet is very polite. Based on how every other character in the poem

       has behaved toward Gawayne, what does this hint at?

71. The Green Knight swings his axe twice. What are the two swings for?

72. What would the Green Knight's third swing have been for?

73. Why does Gawayne give the Green Knight a chance to make that third swing?

74. Why does the Green Knight decline Gawayne's offer?
75. Why does the author not explain exactly what happens when Gawayne returns to Camelot? (Two




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