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Green Knight

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Is this REALLY the court of King Arthur? And can these REALLY be the Knights of the Round Table?
~ The Green Knight challenges King Arthur.

The Green Knight is the main antagonist of the Arthurian tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He is the titular opponent of Sir Gawain.


As revealed in the tale, Sir Berckilak was once a normal, jovial human knight who lived in his castle with his wife and loyal servants and knights. However, one night, Morgan le Fay came to his castle, and brainwashed him into hating King Arthur, and she put a spell on him to enable him to shapeshift into a gigantic Green Knight - this form was fearsome and was entirely green, with green skin, green hair and gigantic muscles. His eyes glowed fierce and he could wield a giant axe. He was very warmongering and ferocious and arrogant in this form. The Green Knight could shift between the forms at will. In his normal form as Sir Berckilak, he was a handsome knight with auburn hair.


The Green Knight first appears in this story when King Arthur is sitting down one Winter night for dinner with his men at New Years' Day, and its a tradition at Camelot that no one can start eating until someone tells a courageous story of struggling against fearsome odds. However, no story comes to anyone's minds, and suddenly they're interrupted by hooves outside, and the Green Knight comes galloping in. His entire body is green, and his eyes burn like coals. The Knights are understandably scared, and the Green Knight however, is pleasant enough, he greets them all and says he hasn't come for a fight, but for a test. He demonstrates his holly branch (a sign of peace) as evidence. He then says he's up for a simple test. If someone hits him with their sword, then the Green Knight can hit them back in one year precisely. However, no one will come to challenge him. The Green Knight gets scornful and dismisses the Knights as immature fools, and says how can they be Knights if an axe makes them tremble. He pulls out his axe and is striding at them when King Arthur says he'll volunteer. However, as he goes out, Sir Gawain, his nephew, volunteers instead, saying he hasn't yet proved himself as a knight and this could be his chance.

The Green Knight is scornful at Sir Gawain, repeatedly calling him "boy" and Sir Gawain tells him to shut up. He says that he'll accept the challenge, and the Knight pulls back his hair, then Sir Gawain raises the Knight's axe and decapitates him. However, to everyone's astonishment, the Knight pulls back his head, slams it back on his neck, and recites a poem to challenge Sir Gawain to come to Wirral, in Wales, where he lives, and next New Year he will repay the favour. Sir Gawain is left fearful as the Knight gallops out of there.

But Sir Gawain is himself a Knight so he keeps his promise. He waits a whole year before going out again. He then ends up in Wales, but has no idea where he is, only to find a castle in the distance. It's almost Christmas so he's just in time. The people of the castle immediately welcome him, and the lord, Sir Berckilak, is very jovial and friendly. He says he's delighted a Knight of the Round Table of Camelot is here and says he can stay as long as he wants.

Sir Gawain is very taken by Sir Berckilak's wife who is very beautiful and flirtatious, even though she's with a married man. She likes Sir Gawain and Sir Berckilak says that they should repay each other with whatever they received that day. During the day, Sir Berckilak's wife kisses Sir Gawain, so Sir Gawain kisses Sir Berckilak when he gets home. The Knight is confused, but laughs it off and gives Sir Gawain his prized boar. The next day the wife kisses Sir Gawain and he kisses Sir Berckilak again in return. Sir Berckilak now has a smelly fox to give Sir Gawain. They go off for dinner.

Sir Gawain wishes to leave to keep his promise to the Green Knight but Sir Berckilak says the Green Chapel is just a mile off from his castle, and he can take him down on New Years Day. Sir Gawain is relieved, and he is shocked when the wife tries to seduce and make out with him the next day, but he says he's a Knight and cannot betray his host. The wife then says she'll be in mourning, but gives him a sash which she says has magic powers. She then kisses him and Sir Gawain is taken down to the Chapel the next day, and shouts to the Green Knight to appear.

He does, and comes out of the Chapel, which is more like a burial mound. Sir Gawain pretends not to be afraid, and kneels for the blow to come. Instead, the Knight scratches Sir Gawain, making him think he's missed, then the second time, he slices his axe across Sir Gawain's neck, and the third time, Sir Gawain thinks he's playing games and is afraid to kill him, so he jumps up armed, and yelling to the Green Knight to kill him already. However, the Green Knight says his debt is over. He knows that Sir Gawain is worthy, and will not kill him because he reveals he put his wife up to being seductive. The Green Knight is revealed as Sir Berckilak, and he says that Sir Gawain was virtuous all along - his only fault was taking the sash from Sir Berckilak's wife. Sir Gawain is relieved his ordeal is over but begs the Knight to kill him because he's not worthy. The Green Knight laughs and says Sir Gawain is being too hard on himself. He says he shouldn't value pride more than anything and that Morgan le Fay brainwashed and enchanted himself. She wanted to see whether the Knights of the Round Table lived up to their name, which they do. The Green Knight invites Sir Gawain up to his castle to celebrate but Sir Gawain declines, and says he'll keep the sash to remind him of his failure. The Knight then lets Sir Gawain return to Camelot, which he does.

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