The Green Knight enters the castle and is greeted by King Arthur.
Splendid that knight errant stood in a splay of green, And green, too, was the mane of his mighty destrier (1-2)
The Green Knight challenges the mightiest of the men to a challenge.
If any man holds himself, here in this house, so hardy, So bold in his blood—and so brainless in his head— That he dares to stoutly exchange one stroke for another” (65-67).
Sir Gawain laid hold of the ax and he hefted it high, His pivot foot thrown forward before him on the floor, And then, swiftly, he slashed at the naked neck; (144-146).
Sir Gawain slices the Green Knight's head off with the ax.
While the lord is out hunting, the lady attempts to seduce Gawain. Gawain resists her, however, and on the first two days accepts only kisses, which he gives to the lord at the end of each day in exchange for what the lord has gained in the hunt (237).
Sir Gawain resists the lady's attempts to seduce him
He raises that ax up lightly and flashes it down, And that blinding bit bites in at the knight’s bare neck— But hard as he hammered it down, it hurt him no more Than to nick the nape of his neck, so it split the skin; The sharp blade slit to the flesh through the shiny hide, (289-293)
The Green Knight spares Sir Gawain's life
“Whatever harm I’ve had, I hold it amended Since now you’re confessed so clean, acknowledging sins And bearing the plain penance of my point; I consider you polished as white and as perfectly clean As if you had never fallen since first you were born (367-371).
The Green Knight commends Sir Gawain is his ability to accept his fate, and deems him "clean" or worthy