Le Morte d’Arthur

A knight in Arthur’s court, and nephew of Arthur. Gawaine often fails to live up to courtly ideals, such as when he refuses to grant a knight mercy and then kills the knight’s lady by mistake. But he seems to strive to be a good, worthy knight, and pledges total loyalty to Launcelot, who serves as his idol for the kind of knight he’d like to be. However, Gawaine’s temper and obstinacy ultimately contribute to the downfall of the empire, as he refuses to forgive Launcelot for mistakenly killing Gareth in battle, and this leads to an intractable conflict between members of Arthur’s court.

Sir Gawaine Quotes in Le Morte d’Arthur

The Le Morte d’Arthur quotes below are all either spoken by Sir Gawaine or refer to Sir Gawaine. 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:
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Le Morte d’Arthur published in 1970.
Book 13 Quotes

Ah Gawaine, Gawaine, ye have betrayed me; for never shall my court be amended by you, but ye will never be sorry for me as I am for you. And therewith the tears began to run down his visage.

Related Characters: King Arthur (speaker), Sir Gawaine
Related Symbols: The Holy Grail (Sangreal)
Page Number: Vol 2, 250
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sir Gawaine Character Timeline in Le Morte d’Arthur

The timeline below shows where the character Sir Gawaine appears in Le Morte d’Arthur. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
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Women: Weakness and Power Theme Icon
...Queen Margawse, the wife of King Lot, comes to see him with her four sons Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, and Gareth. Arthur lusts after her and they sleep together, though he doesn’t... (full context)
Book 2
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...battle. Pellinore joins the fight and strikes King Lot, killing him (which, years later, Sir Gawaine will avenge by killing Pellinore). All the dead are buried in Camelot. (full context)
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...his son Galahad. Launcelot will, with this sword, kill the man he loves best, Sir Gawaine, Merlin foretells. Merlin constructs an iron and steel bridge onto the island, and enchants it... (full context)
Book 3
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...shall sit there. He takes Pellinore by the hand and gives him one seat. Sir Gawaine (who has just been knighted alongside Tor) is furious at this, since Pellinore killed his... (full context)
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...and steals away the lady, crying. When she is gone, Merlin advises Arthur to call Gawaine to bring back the white hart, and call Tor to bring back the brachet and... (full context)
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Chapter 6 Sir Gawaine rides out with his brother Gaheris and they come across two brothers fighting. The elder... (full context)
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Gawaine follows the cry of the hounds to a river, which the hart swims across. On... (full context)
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Chapter 7 Gawaine and Gaheris continue chasing the hart and send three greyhounds after it into a castle,... (full context)
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Chapter 8 That night, four armed knights besiege Gawaine in the castle, saying that he’s shamed his knighthood for not showing mercy and for... (full context)
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One lady comes to Sir Gawaine the next morning and asks for his name. She cries that he must be Arthur’s... (full context)
Book 4
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...reach a large river, wondering whether to risk death by crossing it. Meanwhile, Sir Kay, Gawaine, and Griflet see the five kings riding towards them with spears, and though they are... (full context)
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...replacing the eight knights of the Round Table who were killed in battle. Pellinore recommends Gawaine, Griflet, and Kay. (full context)
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...him, but he’s still suspicious of Uwaine, who might be allied with his mother. But Gawaine says that since his cousin Uwaine is expelled from the court, he will leave too,... (full context)
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Chapter 17 Gawaine and Uwaine ask why the damsels are doing this to the shield, and they say... (full context)
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Chapter 18 Marhaus asks Gawaine and Uwaine what they’re doing there, and they say they’ve come to seek adventures. Marhaus... (full context)
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...eldest lady, since he believes her to be wise. Marhaus chooses the middle woman, and Gawaine thanks him for leaving him the youngest and most beautiful. Uwaine goes west, Marhaus south,... (full context)
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Chapter 20 Gawaine then sees ten knights preparing to fight against the one knight. He fights valiantly but... (full context)
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Two armed knights then come shouting to Gawaine to joust with them. While he fights with one, the other asks the damsel to... (full context)
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...him to her, all in an attempt to shame him and make him leave her. Gawaine says he will help Pelleas. In the morning he rides out, and Pelleas confides that... (full context)
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Chapter 22 Gawaine comes to Ettard’s castle and declares that he’s killed Pelleas. He identifies himself as a... (full context)
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Gawaine and Ettard sleep together in a pavilion outside the castle. On the third day, Pelleas... (full context)
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When Ettard awakes she realizes it’s Pelleas’s sword on her throat, and she says to Gawaine that he’s betrayed both Pelleas and herself. Gawaine departs and goes into the forest. Meanwhile... (full context)
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...Round Table, and he with his six sons will fight Marhaus together, in revenge for Gawaine once killing seven sons of his. Marhaus and the damsel rest that night and then... (full context)
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...court. Uwaine recovers at the castle for half a year, and then meets Marhaus and Gawaine at the crossway as had been promised. (full context)
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...through a forest and meet with a messenger of King Arthur, who wants to bring Gawaine and Uwaine back to court. They arrive at Camelot with Marhaus, where they share all... (full context)
Book 5
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Chapter 6 Arthur sends Sir Gawaine, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Lionel, and Sir Bedivere to Lucius to tell him to... (full context)
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The Romans gather their army and capture Sir Bors de Ganis, but Gawaine and another knight rescue them. Gawaine sends for Arthur for help. Before Arthur arrives, Gawaine... (full context)
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...they besiege since the inhabitants refuse to obey Arthur. Arthur sends several knights, led by Gawaine, to find food in the forest. Gawaine, seeking adventure, steals away and comes across an... (full context)
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Chapter 10 The two men run at each other with their spears, and Gawaine deeply wounds the knight, who nevertheless manages to wound Gawaine as well. The knight cries... (full context)
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Priamus and Gawaine ride to a distant meadow, where Priamus takes out a vial full of waters from... (full context)
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Chapter 11 Gawaine goes with an earl, his knights and Priamus’s knights to join the forces against the... (full context)
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Chapter 12 Gawaine introduces Priamus to Arthur and tells him of their adventure. Arthur makes him a knight... (full context)
Book 6
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...with the copper basin, which Launcelot strikes. From the distance rides Turquine, with Sir Gaheris, Gawaine’s brother, tied and bound beside him. Launcelot says Turquine has shamed the knights of the... (full context)
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Chapter 13 Launcelot rides into the forest and encounters knights of Arthur’s court, Gawaine, Uwaine, Ector de Maris, and Sagramour le Desirous. Sagramour decides to test the strength of... (full context)
Book 7
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...is not to eat until he’s heard of or seen a great marvel. That day, Gawaine sees three men and a dwarf approaching the castle, and he tells Arthur that they... (full context)
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Chapter 2 Gawaine is angry with Kay for mocking Beaumains, who is now eating sadly. Launcelot and Gawaine... (full context)
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Chapter 4 Sir Kay rides after Beaumains, against the wish of Launcelot and Gawaine. Beaumains sees him and says he is an ungentle knight. Kay runs toward Beaumains with... (full context)
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...Launcelot says he must know his true name. He says he is Gareth of Orkney, Gawaine’s brother. Launcelot is pleased, and makes Gareth a knight before fetching Kay and returning home,... (full context)
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...real name is Gareth of Orkney. His father was King Lot, and his brothers are Gawaine, Agravaine, and Gaheris. (full context)
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...he once loved a lady whose brother was killed, she said, either by Launcelot or Gawaine, and she had him promise to fight daily until meeting with one of those two... (full context)
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...He decides to send the Knight to Arthur’s court to ask mercy from Launcelot and Gawaine. For 10 days they rest and recover, and then the Knight goes to Arthur’s court... (full context)
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Chapter 25 They all feast, and the Queen of Orkney (Margawse) arrives. Gawaine, Agravaine, and Gaheris greet her. Margawse rebukes Arthur for having made her son, Gareth, a... (full context)
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...best not to hurt him or any of the other knights of the Round Table. Gawaine asks Sir Tristram who the knight of many colors is. Tristram goes to the Knight... (full context)
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...When Gareth realizes he’s discovered, he lashes out more strongly, even striking down his brother Gawaine. Gareth angrily demands the ring from his dwarf, accusing him of treachery, and, disguised again,... (full context)
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...himself, and they fight for two hours. Then Linet comes riding forward, and cries to Gawaine to stop fighting with his brother Gareth. Each realizing who the other is, the brothers... (full context)
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...Christian holiday), and announce it throughout the realm. Gareth grows close to Launcelot, but avoids Gawaine, who is growing jealous of him. (full context)
Book 8
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...Tramtrist a white horse and harness to fight against Palomides with his black shield. Sir Gawaine and others watch and marvel as Tramtrist strikes down Palomides. Tramtrist then makes the squire... (full context)
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Chapter 28 Tristram departs over the sea. Meanwhile Launcelot, riding, encounters Gawaine bound up by Sir Carados. Gawaine says that only Launcelot or Tristram can rescue him.... (full context)
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...41 After a few days Lamorak finds a knight sleeping next to a lady. Then Gawaine rides up and takes the lady with him. Lamorak calls after Gawaine, who says he... (full context)
Book 9
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...says she’s the fairest queen of all, but Lamorak says that title belongs to Margawse, Gawaine’s mother. Meliagrance wants to prove he’s right by fighting, so in anger they ride towards... (full context)
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...horse and spear from Gouvernail, and rides out of the castle at night. He meets Gawaine’s son by the gate and knocks him out with his spear before riding into the... (full context)
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...him about a knight he can win glory by fighting against. They ride and encounter Gawaine, who knows the lady is of Morgan le Fay, and is leading Tristram to mischief.... (full context)
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Chapter 26 Gawaine and Tristram agree to ride to Morgan le Fay’s castle. When they arrive, Gawaine calls... (full context)
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...sick in the same old knight’s home where Tristram is staying, having jousted with Persides. Gawaine sends a damsel who meets Palomides on the way. When she arrives she describes his... (full context)
Book 10
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...fought with and killed the lady’s lover. Tristram departs and, on the third day, meets Gawaine and Bleoberis at a lodge, both wounded. Both had met this knight too. They each... (full context)
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...and comes across a knight bemoaning how he loves Margawse, Lot’s wife and mother to Gawaine and Gaheris. Mark goes to him and asks his name, which is Lamorak de Galis.... (full context)
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Chapter 21 Arthur announces a jousting tournament. Tristram, Launcelot, and Dinadan decide not to joust. Gawaine wins at first, but then a knight with a red shield arrives riding and strikes... (full context)
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Chapter 24 Gawaine and his brothers send for their mother, Margawse, to go to a castle next to... (full context)
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Chapter 25 Gawaine’s brothers Agravaine and Mordred ride along and meet with a wounded knight who is fleeing... (full context)
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...the 5th day, the fighting begins again, and a Saracen strikes down three brothers of Gawaine: Mordred, Gaheris, and Agravaine. Arthur hears of this and is angry, so he decides to... (full context)
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...for Camelot. But Lamorak refuses to go, although Arthur has promised to protect him against Gawaine and his brothers. Lamorak pledges allegiance to Arthur, even as he hates the brothers. (full context)
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...Launcelot or Tristram. Palomides says that only one person has been his match: Lamorak, but Gawaine and his brothers killed him. Upon hearing this, Percivale (Lamorak’s brother) swoons in grief. Then... (full context)
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...by one, until Galihodin bids his knights to stop. They continue on until Palomides sees Gawaine, Uwaine, Sagramore le Desirous, and Dodinas le Savage, all ready to joust. Palomides defeats them... (full context)
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Then Galihodin meets Gawaine and they compare notes, saying that the people they encountered must be Tristram, Palomides, and... (full context)
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Chapter 67 Tristram continues to Lonazep, but Gawaine and Galihodin arrive to Arthur first and tell him about the knight with the white... (full context)
Book 11
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...on his way to Arthur’s court, and ask him to tell them of their failure. Gawaine, Uwaine, Sagramore le Desirous, Aglovale, and Percivale all ask Arthur to go out searching as... (full context)
Book 13
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Chapter 3 Gawaine attempts to take the sword from the stone but he cannot, nor can Percivale. They... (full context)
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...no one manages to see the Grail itself, as it is covered in white silk. Gawaine swears to go in quest of the Sangreal for a year and a day before... (full context)
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...died, but they brothers have kept her younger sister. In the morning Galahad learns that Gawaine, Gareth, and Uwaine have slain the brothers. (full context)
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Chapter 16 Gawaine, meanwhile, has ridden to the abbey where Melias lies sick. Gawaine wants to find Galahad,... (full context)
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Each one then departs alone. Gawaine rides to a hermitage, where Gawaine confides to the hermit that a monk had called... (full context)
Book 16
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Chapter 1 Meanwhile Gawaine rides along without finding any adventure. Then he meets Ector de Maris, who is also... (full context)
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...on a nearby mountain. They meet with an armed knight who offers to joust with Gawaine, and Gawaine strikes him down and orders him to yield. The knight says he will... (full context)
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Chapter 3 Gawaine cries out in sorrow. Uwaine asks him to recommend himself to Arthur and the court.... (full context)
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Chapter 5 Gawaine asks why they have not met with many adventures: Nacien says that they have been... (full context)
Book 17
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...by a castle where a tournament is taking place. Galahad does many great deeds there. Gawaine and Ector de Maris are also present, and they recognize Galahad’s shield. Galahad strikes Gawaine... (full context)
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...an altar with a tomb, on which is written that here lies Bagdemagus, killed by Gawaine. Launcelot mourns this death. In the morning he arrives to Camelot, where he learns that... (full context)
Book 18
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...private dinner with 24 knights. One, Pinel, poisons some apples in the hopes of killing Gawaine, who often eats them. But instead a knight named Patrise takes an apple and falls... (full context)
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...Round Table knights back. They strike down many of these knights, forcing them to withdraw. Gawaine marvels at the prowess of the knight, and thinks it must be Launcelot, but then... (full context)
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...Meanwhile, the foreign knights tell Arthur that the unknown knight has left, wounded. Arthur asks Gawaine to find him and help him heal. Gawaine rides and lodges at Astolat, where he... (full context)
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Chapter 14 Elaine le Blank tells Gawaine how they met, and how the unknown knight asked for a new shield so as... (full context)
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...love of her, to see her. All the foreign knights arrive, and the battle begins: Gawaine and Bors win the first day’s prize, though Gareth and Palomides also do well. (full context)
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...Table begin to triumph over those of Launcelot’s kin. Then Launcelot comes and strikes down Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Palomides. Arthur is angry, and calls together knights to fight back. Gareth... (full context)
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Chapter 24 The tournament lasts until night. Gawaine tells Arthur that he assumes Launcelot is the knight with a gold sleeve, and the... (full context)
Book 20
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...to sleep with the queen, and for them to all know it and do nothing. Gawaine, Gareth, and Gaheris say they will not continue such talk, but Mordred agrees with Agravaine,... (full context)
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...broken forever. Guenever must be sentenced to death, which is the only punishment for treason. Gawaine asks Arthur to grant mercy to his queen, given that there could be another explanation... (full context)
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Chapter 8 Arthur tells Gawaine, Gaheris, and Gareth to prepare Guenever for the fire. Gawaine refuses to assist in such... (full context)
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...Gareth, crying that his fellowship is broken. He asks the other knights not to tell Gawaine of his brothers’ deaths for now, but someone sneaks off to tell Gawaine. Gawaine refuses... (full context)
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Chapter 10 When Gawaine rushes to Arthur, Arthur tells him that Launcelot killed his brothers accidentally. Gawaine swears never... (full context)
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Chapter 11 Then one day Launcelot calls to Arthur and Gawaine to ask them to give up the siege rather than risk dishonor on the battlefield.... (full context)
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Chapter 12 Arthur would have just taken his queen and returned home, but Gawaine refuses to make any kind of compromise. They prepare to do battle, and in the... (full context)
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Chapter 13 Gawaine meets Lionel and strikes him down: the battle begun, many more are slain. Sir Bors... (full context)
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Chapter 14 Arthur wants to agree but Gawaine won’t make peace with Launcelot. Launcelot agrees to bring Guenever to Arthur in eight days,... (full context)
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...according to the Pope’s command. He tells Arthur of Agravaine’s and Mordred’s treacherous actions, but Gawaine says they were right. Launcelot says he has always been loyal to Arthur and Gawaine,... (full context)
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Chapter 16 Gawaine says that the king can do as he wishes, but he himself will never forgive... (full context)
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...to say that she isn’t true to Arthur. All weep as he leaves, except for Gawaine. Launcelot goes to his castle and draws his knights together, saying that he must leave... (full context)
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Chapter 29 Meanwhile Arthur and Gawaine prepare a great army to fight against Launcelot’s people. They sail to Benwick and lay... (full context)
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Chapter 20 Gawaine tells the messenger that he hasn’t forgotten his promise to kill or be killed by... (full context)
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Chapter 21 Gawaine and Launcelot come together, and their horses fall to the earth. They continue on foot,... (full context)
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Chapter 22 The king regrets that this war was ever begun. Gawaine lies wounded for 3 weeks. Finally he returns to the castle gates and orders Launcelot... (full context)
Book 21
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...navy. A great battle takes place, and Arthur’s men drive back Mordred’s, until they flee. Gawaine is then found lying half-dead in a boat. Arthur weeps of sorrow, crying that he’s... (full context)
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...and he suddenly falls into the water, and wakes up. When he falls asleep again, Gawaine comes to him in a dream, saying God has told him to warn Arthur that... (full context)
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Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trickery and Mistaken Identity Theme Icon
...knights from both sides are soon killed, which infuriates Arthur. He rides to Mordred, forgetting Gawaine’s warning. Mordred rides towards Arthur, who strikes him through the body. But as Mordred feels... (full context)
Honor and Chivalry Theme Icon
Jealousy, Competition, and Revenge Theme Icon
...narrator returns to an earlier moment, and says that Launcelot learns of Mordred’s treachery through Gawaine’s letter, which has grieved him deeply. Launcelot prepares to go to Gawaine’s tomb, and he... (full context)