The story of Sir Gawain is an old English romantic-dramatical poem, where Sir Gawain (the nephew of King Arthur and one of his Round Table knights), is the hero.
On Christmas Day, during their feast at Camelot in comes the Green Knight who issues a strange awkward challenge daring any knight to cut off his head that he may cut off their head in return.
Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and immediate chops off the Green Knights head and it rolls on the ground. Magically, without ‘faltering’ it is said, the Green Knight then picked up his severed head and said to Sir Gawain, ‘Meet me in a year’s time that I may chop off your head according to the challenge.’
After a year, with the challenge weighing heavy on his mind, Sir Gawain set out to meet the Green Knight. Lady Ragnelle says that she will marry him if he returns.
Within a few nights of his appointed time, Sir Gawain comes across the castle of Lord and Lady Bertiak, not far from the woods where he is to meet the Green Knight.
They offer Sir Gawain their strange hospitality.
In all the people living in their castle is an old hag that remains a mystery but treated with great respect by everyone. Lord Bertiak hunts every day without inviting Sir Gawain along, who must fend off his tarty wife, the Lady Bertiak. On the final night of Sir Gawain’s stay before his meeting with the Green Knight in the woods nearby, the Lady Bertiak offers Sir Gawain a ‘play marriage’ but being so honest he turns her down. For his honesty she awards him with a silk girdle that has a spell cast on it to make its wearer invulnerable. Sir Gawain sets out into the woods to meet the Green Knight wearing the girdle under his armor.
Greeting the Green Knight, Sir Gawain knelts down so that his head might be cut off according to their challenge. But the girdle protects him and he receives just a small scratch.
Having lost their challenge, the Green Knight reveals that he is Sir Bertiak, that the old hag is King Arthur’s sister, Morgan la Fay, out to test her brother’s court.
Back at Camelot, Lady Ragnelle waits patiently for Sir Gawain to return. But while on his way, Morgan la Fay puts a spell on her, turning her into a hag by appearance.
When Sir Gawain returns to Camelot, thus begins the story of Sir Gawain’s Marriage to the Homely Lady.