10 Best Quotes From The Green Knight | ScreenRant

The Green Knight is not the first movie based on a poem, but it is undoubtedly one of the most surreal and enigmatic films in the genre. Aside from its visually stunning shots and perfectly cast characters, its well-written script added depth and a poetic cadence to the movie.

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Some of the most memorable quotes from The Green Knight capture the characters’ individual stories within the larger context of the time period. A few words can speak volumes about societal pressure, fear of death, and the value of honor. These lines leave a lasting impression on the viewer who, after watching the film, may look back at some of these quotes for much-needed answers about Sir Gawain’s journey.

10 “Do Not Take Your Place Amongst Them Idly.” – The King

Though he’s simply referred to as "The King" in the movie, Gawain’s uncle is actually the legendary King Arthur. In the film, he’s old and frail, tired from his years of conquest and ruling. As he sits in front of other legendary knights, he asks Gawain what he sees and cautions that he shouldn’t take his place among the storied men lightly.

One of the reasons The Green Knight is among the best movies based on poems is seen as early as this scene. The king and queen don’t overexplain Gawain’s incompetence or narrate their lives. Through their carefully selected and poetic words, audiences can piece together the protagonist’s story and understand his motivations.

9 “I Will Return What Was Given To Me, And Then, In Trust And Friendship, We Shall Part.” – The Green Knight

The Green Knight first appears with his tall dark horse and ominous letter, delivered by the queen who seems possessed as she reads it with a demonic voice. The entire room of brave knights becomes entranced by the knight's cryptic challenge.

However, the letter is not cryptic at all. The king whispered to Gawain to remember that it’s only a game, but it’s either the protagonist wasn’t listening to the last part or (more likely) was too eager to show off. If Gawain had only given the Green Knight a scratch instead of a decapitation, he might have lost his pride instead of his head in the end.

8 “I Do Not Know Of Any Man Who Has Not Marched Up To Greet Death Before His Time." – The King

The year before their next date passes by quickly for Gawain, who makes one last attempt to avoid his fate. He asks the king if he really believes in the absurd idea that the Green Knight is out there waiting for him. The king reminds him of the oath he took and stares into the distance as he says this line.

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Part of becoming an honorable knight might have been to march up to an honorable death. This is why the king isn’t fazed at all that his nephew has to meet an anthropomorphic tree in the middle of nowhere so he can be beheaded. It’s the only way Gawain can live up to the standards of being a knight.

7 “Why Greatness? Why Is Goodness Not Enough?” – Essel

One of the first characters introduced to the audience is Essel, a woman from the lower class who seems to be totally in love with Gawain. The protagonist, on the other hand, knows that he will eventually have to leave her to marry royalty, as viewers see later on in the film. Before Gawain leaves to find the chapel, Essel implores him to think about his quest for greatness, asking why it’s even necessary.

Gawain is not a good person. He’s a lazy man who spends most of his time in brothels. But what he probably couldn’t tell Essel was that since he wasn’t a good man, striving for greatness is the only way to show he deserves his royal lineage.

6 “I Just Need My Head.” – Lady Winifred

One of the most intense parts of The Green Knight that proves it’s a movie fans should watch twice to understand is the sequence with Lady Winifred. After Gawain sleeps in an abandoned home, he’s woken up by Lady Winifred, who asks for his help in finding her head in the lake. She tells a terrible tale of how a knight like him violated her and cut off her head.

Lady Winifred’s character is actually based on the legend of Saint Winifred of Wales. Like the film, St. Winifred is pursued and decapitated by a young prince, and it’s only when her head is placed back on her head that she’s brought back to life. That doesn’t quite happen in The Green Knight, however, as Gawain instead walks into a nightmarish version of the bedroom, with Lady Winifred’s head creepily talking to him.

5 “You Are At The End Of Your Quest, Gawain. A Little Sooner Than You Expected, Perhaps. But Such Is The Case For Us All.” – The Lord

When Gawain finds shelter in a mysterious home with a lord and a lady, he’s startled to discover that the chapel is only a day’s journey away. The lord senses his fear and says this line, referring both to his physical trip towards the chapel and his more important journey towards death.

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One of the most prominent themes the film deals with is this fear of death, which Gawain is too young to understand, at first. The lord has obviously lived through more years and seen more terrible things.

4 “Go That Way And Your Doom Is At Hand.” – The Fox

While the fox in the film is not exactly among the best animals in movies in recent years, he was still an adorable companion that provided both Gawain and the audience some sense of consistency and relief. This is why it was so jarring to hear the fox speak suddenly, out of nowhere.

At first, the fox seems to be giving Gawain a friendly warning, saying that whatever is “that way” is as wild as he is, but deadlier. He then starts to mock Gawain for wanting to bring his magical belt, saying “No need for gifts where you are headed.” It’s not clear who the fox represents or what he was trying to accomplish, but it was disappointing to see him scurry away.

3 “Green Is What Is Left When Ardor Fades, When Passion Dies, When We Die, Too.” – The Lady

The lady is one of the smartest characters in the movie. With a private library full of hundreds of books, she has a broad understanding of life and its many facets. When she asks Gawain about what he knows of the Green Knight, she starts to recite a haunting passage.

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In her monologue, she seems to be explaining the futility of bloodshed, especially with her line: “Whilst we’re off looking for red, in comes green.” No matter how many battles are won or men lost, nature will outlast humans and reclaim the earth.

2 “One Year Or A Hundred, It Wouldn't Make A Difference.” – Gawain

When Gawain finally reaches the chapel, he finds out that the Green Knight meant every word and was going to take his head. Just when he’s about to lose his head, he flinches, causing the Green Knight to stop. He’s had a year to prepare, after all.

Gawain’s reply solidifies The Green Knight as a great philosophical movie. It's supposed to show just how cowardly he really is, but it could be a natural response to death for most. He’s not ready to die, especially when he’s unsure of what he’s even dying for. And his year of waiting did nothing to remove his fear.

1 “What Else Ought There Be?” – The Green Knight

When Gawain asks the knight, whose sword is above his head, “Is this really all there is?” the knight pauses and seems confused, asking what else ought there be. Gawain, with his naivety and foolishness, thought that his arduous journey to reach the chapel would have meant something more.

His pursuit of the vague idea of honor was always meant to end this way. It’s only after he sees a vision of the rest of his life – how brutal, pointless, and painful it would be – that he becomes brave enough to remove his protective belt and accept death, finally completing his game with the Green Knight.

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