Part 1: Lines 1–490

During the New Year's Day festivities, after King Arthur requests a marvelous story, a mysterious gigantic knight, all covered in green, rides into Camelot and proposes a game: someone will strike him with his axe but be struck back in a year and a day. Arthur's nephew, Gawain, accepts the challenge and severs the knight's head. He picks up his head, introduces himself as the Knight of the Green Chapel, reiterates Gawain's promise, and leaves.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 1: Lines 1–490.

Part 2: Lines 491–1125

In late fall, Gawain leaves to seek the Green Chapel and, on Christmas Eve, reaches a magnificent castle. Its lord welcomes him, introduces his beautiful wife and an old lady, and later convinces him to stay until New Year's and accept a game: during the day, Gawain will stay with the ladies in the castle while the host goes hunting; at the end of the day, the two men will exchange whatever they won.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 2: Lines 491–1125.

Part 3: Lines 1126–1997

On the first day of the game, as the host goes hunting, his wife enters Gawain's chamber and gives him a kiss. At the end of the day, the host gives Gawain some venison, and Gawain gives him a kiss. On the second day, Gawain gives him two kisses from his wife. On the third day, he gives the host three kisses but keeps a green girdle that his wife claims will protect Gawain from human weapons.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 3: Lines 1126–1997.

Part 4: Lines 1998–2531

Next day, Gawain finds the Green Knight, who only nicks his neck. Realizing he is the lord of the castle, Gawain returns the girdle, but the lord refuses it. He then reveals he is Bernlak (often translated as Bertilak) de Hautdesert and had acted as the Green Knight by order of Morgan le Fay, Gawain's aunt. Gawain returns to Camelot, tells his story to the court, and they all decide to wear green baldrics as a sign of respect and unity.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part 4: Lines 1998–2531.