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How many kisses in total did Gawain receive?

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In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the main character has received a total of six kisses:

  • one kiss on the first day of trial
  • two on the second
  • three on the final day.

These kisses were not the demonstration of lady’s affection, but the ultimate test of righteousness.

Detailed answer:

The story follows Sir Gawain’s quest to fulfill the Green Knight’s promise of receiving a hit in return. On his way, he encounters a castle where the lord and his wife live. The wife is trying to seduce the main character for three days while her husband is going out to hunt. Such occupation results in lord and Gawain’s agreement to the exchange of winnings. This leads to the protagonist trading lady’s kisses for the lord’s prey.

On the first day, the lady kisses the hero once, on the second day – twice, on the third one – three times. Every day Sir Gawain gives kisses back to the lord. On the third day hero also receives a belt, which he does not give to the master of the castle, thus ruining their agreement. After that, Gawain goes to the Green Chapel, where he finds out that the lord was a Green Knight in disguise. The Knight’s three hits result in the hero receiving a cut on the third swing.

As the Knight explains, every single of three hits were the trial results, which Gawain endured at the castle. He returned the kiss on the first day, returned two kisses on the second day. It is the third day’s trial that the hero has failed by leaving the belt for himself. The kisses, which Gawain did receive, were a test of the hero’s righteousness. Yet, the attempt to seduce him resulted in nothing but a small cut.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "How many kisses in total did Gawain receive?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-many-kisses-in-total-did-gawain-receive/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'How many kisses in total did Gawain receive'. 25 January.

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