As the seduction scenes wherein the real trial

As the tale began with the description of Brutus’ Britain that leads into Arthur’s court, so does it end with Arthur’s court leading out to Brutus’ Isle and the final motto, (Honi Soyt Qui Mal Pense), thus providing the story with typical cyclic resolution. More than this however is the book’s mirror reflectivity down the centre line – the seduction scenes wherein the real trial of Gawain takes place – a form that is only understandable having heard the conclusion. As such the parts of the story fall into place. Ultimately, Sir Gawain differs from type by also rendering an ending that leaves all things the same as they were at the beginning, but at the same time feeling unnervingly different. Gawain’s honour has been dented, and the honour and reputation of Arthur’s court somehow changed as a result. The fact that everyone adopts the green girdle of Gawain’s shame is not an accident.

In summary therefore, the Gawain-poet’s version of this typical motif is again extremely thought provoking, as he says, “Our endings rarely square with our beginnings.”

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