Report On The Number Three English Literature Essay


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In many stories from the medieval times such as Beowulf, Macbeth and other the number three has been an important symbol. As other medieval poems, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the number three was also important. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the number three appeared in Fitt 3 and Fitt 4, and it represented a sequence of events that were all related to each other. First the three times the Lord of the castle went to hunt, the three times the Lady tried to seduce Sir Gawain on three separate days, the three kisses and finally the Green Knight swinging the ax three times.

All these events closely relate to each other. Bertilak and Sir Gawain agree to exchange their days winning, for Bertilak, it was whatever he hunted and for Sir Gawain it was whatever he won in the castle. I think that Bertilak for hunting and the Lady trying to seduce Sir Gawain are related. The Lady is also hunting to find Sir Gawain's weakness. The behavior of Sir Gawain was related to the animal that was hunted by Bertilak. For example in the first hunt the Lord killed a deer, just like the deer Sir Gawain was cautious. Also, the Lord, "Let the bucks go by, with their broad antlers, for it was counted a crime, in the close season, if a man of that demesne should molest the male deer" (lines 1154-6). At that period in time it was a crime to seduce the Lady; this was the reason of Sir Gawain's cautious behavior. Also we can relate this incident with the first swing by the Green Knight. The Green Knight stopped the ax because he saw Sir Gawain flinch, this revealed his fear of death, and we can also relate this to his fear of being seduced by the Lady because that was a crime that was punishable by death. At the end of the day Sir Gawain has exchanged his winnings with the Lords are per their agreement. Sir Gawain gave Bertilak one kiss in exchange for the deer he killed.

On the second day the Lord hunted a boar and this also reflected the behavior of Sir Gawain, usually a boar is harder to kill than a deer meaning that Sir Gawain also has a tougher time with the Lady. The Lady was able to stay with Sir Gawain a long time "thus she tested his temper and tried many a time" (line 1549). In return she was also able to get two kisses from Sir Gawain. This also related to the second swing by the Green Knight. The Green Knight stopped his swing, and the reason for this was that the Green Knight was testing Sir Gawain to see if he would finch again. This showed that he was brave and also relates his time with the Lady because unlike on the first day of the hunt she was able to spend extra time with Sir Gawain and get two kisses. At the end of the day both kisses were exchanged with the boar according to the Lord's agreement.

On the final day of the agreement between the Lord and Sir Gawain, the Lord hunts a fox which was described as "Often reverses over rough terrain or loops back to listen in the lee of a hedge" (lines 1717-8). This describes the way a fox tries to outsmart his opponents and was a way to describe the way Sir Gawain is trying to outsmart the Lady. But the Lady was able to find out that Sir Gawain's weakness was that he was afraid of death. Though she tried hard, Sir Gawain only kissed her three times, but she also gave him a green girdle. She said that the girdle had magical powers and that the person who wears it will not die. Sir Gawain who feared death took the girdle in return for the three kisses. At the end of the day which the Lord exchanged his hunt with what Sir Gawain had won, Sir Gawain gave the three kisses but not the girdle. This also relates to the third swing of the ax which has left a cut on the neck of Sir Gawain.

After the Green Knight swung his ax for the third time he revealed himself as the Lord to Sir Gawain. He explained the test that had been given to the Knights of the Round Table through Sir Gawain, and explained the three swings to Sir Gawain As follows:

You kissed my comely wife—each kiss you restored. For both of these there behooved two feigned blows by right. True men pay what they owe; No danger then in sight. You failed me in the third throw, So take my tap, sir knight (lines 2351-7).

Each blow represented the way Sir Gawain responded to the three seductions by the Lady, and although Sir Gawain did not exchange the belt with the Lord, he also didn't commit adultery, so he was injured as opposed to killed. Each animal that the Lord hunted represented the Lady and her style of trying to seduce Sir Gawain. But, Sir Gawain stood strong, and survived to tell the tale of his journey to the other Knights of the Round Table, and was a lesson to the other men on how even the strongest man can have a flaw.

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