Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Bertilak of Hautdesert Character Analysis

The noble lord of the castle where Gawain seeks refuge on his travels. He is described as being even more strong and knightly than King Arthur, and he reigns over a court that is less artificial and earthier than Camelot. His wife is quite a beauty. Bertilak kindly offers Gawain hospitality and engages him in a three-day game, exchanging his winnings from hunting with Gawain’s winnings in the court. At the end of the poem it is revealed that he is actually the Green Knight is disguise and his game was a test of Gawain’s honesty.

Bertilak of Hautdesert Quotes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Sir Gawain and the Green Knight quotes below are all either spoken by Bertilak of Hautdesert or refer to Bertilak of Hautdesert. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Chivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight published in 2008.
Lines 1126-1997 Quotes

"And I will give it all to you, Gawain," said the master,
"for according to our contract it is yours to claim."
"Just so," said Gawain, "and I'll say the same,
for whatever I've won within these walls
such gains will be graciously given to you."
So he held out his arms and hugged the lord
and kissed him in the kindliest way he could.

Related Characters: Sir Gawain (speaker), Bertilak of Hautdesert (speaker)
Page Number: 1383-1389
Explanation and Analysis:

In this amusing passage, Sir Gawain and Bertliak honor their arrangement and exchange their gifts. Bertilak gives Gawain everything he's won during the day (the prize meat from the deer he's killed), and Gawain returns to Bertilak everything that he has "won" during his day inside: Gawain then kisses Bertilak (since, of course, he's kissed the lady). Bertilak doesn't catch on, making the passage especially hilarious for it's readers. The passage further underscores the relationship between hunting and sexuality: it's as if Bertilak's felled animals are equivalent to Gawain's beautiful lady, suggesting that--in the poem's point of view--women are a form of "property."

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Sir Gawain and the Green Knight quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

"As an honest soul I swear on my heart,
you shall find the Green Chapel to finalize your affairs
long before dawn on New Year's Day.
So lie in your room and laze at your leisure
while i ride my estate, and, as our terms dictate
we'll trade our trophies when the hunt returns
I have tested you twice and found you truthful.
But think tomorrow third time throw best.

Related Characters: Bertilak of Hautdesert (speaker), Sir Gawain
Related Symbols: The Color Green
Page Number: 1673-1680
Explanation and Analysis:

Bertilak is still seemingly oblivious to Gawain's relationship with his wife--as far as he's concerned, Gawain is a great guy, and totally trustworthy. Bertilak knows that Gawain is going to face off against the Green Knight very soon, but he suggests that they play one more round of their game: Gawain and Bertilak will trade their earnings at the end of the day.

It's worth noticing that Gawain's friendship with Bertilak has a familiar three-part structure, as in so many fairy tales. Moreover, Bertilak's fondness for games and play is highly reminiscent of the Green Knight's, foreshadowing the connection between the two characters. (Also note that the place where Gawain is to meet the Green Knight is a chapel, not a castle or battlefield--another link between the seemingly contradictory ideals of Christianity and chivalry.)

Get the entire Gawain & the Green Knight LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sir gawain and the green knight.pdf.medium

Bertilak of Hautdesert Character Timeline in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The timeline below shows where the character Bertilak of Hautdesert appears in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 491-1125
Chivalry Theme Icon
Legend, Fame, and Reputation Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
...his heroic status. They lead him inside, to a fire-lit hall, where he meets the lord, who tells him to use the castle as his own and embraces him. Gawain studies... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
Legend, Fame, and Reputation Theme Icon
The lord instructs his court to make Gawain welcome, and they shower him with rich bedding and... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
His host leads Gawain into a private chamber. The host's wife, the lady of the house, desires... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...spirit carries on for three days. On the last night of their feasting together, the lord takes Gawain aside and thanks and compliments him. He offers him a longer stay but... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
...the three days remaining until the New Year, Gawain agrees to stay, and to the lord's suggestion that he sleep late the next day and eat with the lady of the... (full context)
Lines 1126-1997
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Before sunrise, the knights and the lord go to mass and then ready themselves for the hunt. The hounds are released and... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
The poet shifts the narrative back to the hunt, and describes how the lords butcher the deer they've caught, taking out the guts and removing the meat from the... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
...knights fire at it. The beast is hit but does not go down, so the lord boldly rides after it. Meanwhile, Gawain begins his day in bed as before and the... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
At the hunt, the men have run the beast into a trap. None but the lord himself has the courage to approach. The lord wrestles the boar with his bare hands... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Legend, Fame, and Reputation Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...wily and for a long time evades capture, but is eventually pulled down by the lord and his hounds. Meanwhile, the lady wakes Gawain from nightmares about the Green Knight. She... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...Green Knight persuades him to take it. The lady asks him not to tell the lord about token, and he promises not to. The lady kisses Gawain for the third time... (full context)
Chivalry Theme Icon
Games, Rules, and Order Theme Icon
Having killed and skinned the fox, the host returns and this time Gawain offers first his three kisses. The host says the fox... (full context)
Lines 1998-2531
Chivalry Theme Icon
The Natural and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Legend, Fame, and Reputation Theme Icon
...to know the real name of the Green Knight. The knight tells him it is Bertilak of Hautdesert . He explains that he has learned his supernatural skills from Morgan Le Faye, the... (full context)