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Female roles in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

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Chanaporn Plikomol 534 00426 22 Bravery, honesty and faith of a young knight, have been notably tested in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - an Arthurian literature in fourteenth century - in order to celebrate the code of chivalry. Although quite a number of female characters are depicted during a journey of Sir Gawain in his task to prove his vows of the knighthood, interestingly, neither of them is really gone over through a fine-tooth comb about their actual positions and roles in the story. At the very beginning of the poem, poet leads us into his story by telling the foundation of Britain and mentioning the rises and falls of important cities in the past like Troy and Tuscany. So take a deeper look here, the very first thing he states in the poem is outcome of the Trojan War ??once the siege and assault of Troy has ceased, / with the city a smoke-heap of cinder and ash? (Armitage, line1-2). In a sense, the story of Helen of Troy is faintly depicted here. It is like a silenced symbol for the exceedingly beauty of a woman that could lead thousands of men, even the whole city, to destruction. Somehow this implication appears to be a dim outline of the poem, showing that the great moment of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is definitely going to involve some issue about danger of women which is a sexual desire of men. ...read more.


In a way, she is also used as an instrument to prove the chivalry of her husband, as evidence from the first thing King Arthur do after experienced the uncanny situation created by the Green Knight and that is a consolation to his Queen, intentionally to ease her fright. (which has never shown) ??Dear lady don?t be daunted by this deed today, /it?s in keeping that such strangeness should occur at Christmas/ Between sessions of banter and seasonal song? (Armitage, line470-473). This is a decent proof of King Arthur achievement in his knighthood; those are treat lady with respect and protect the weaker and defenseless. All in all, the character of Guinevere acts as a supporter of chivalric code of her husband. At this point, Queen Guinevere represents an ideal feminine beauty in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that is not only consisting of an outstandingly beauty but also passivity, being silent and restriction in all actions. The importance and role of female characters are once again suppressed and reduced. Another important female figure in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is Lady Bertilak, wife of Lord Bertilak of Hautdesert castle, where sir Gawain resides during his travel to the Green Chapel. She takes a role in putting sir Gawain through a test of loyalty towards God and his chivalric code. She plays a so-called ?game of desire? with him. ...read more.


If sir Gawain is defeated by his own desire when she manipulates lord Bertilak and his wife, it could lead to a humiliation of a knighthood and King Arthur himself. Eventually, Morgan is just another puppet who ultimately proves the strength of the knighthood. Overall women characters represented in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; both stated and allusion, are desirable objects of all men. Sarcastically, still, women are much less valuable than men. In the poem, Women who have a lot of freedom and influence over men like lady Bertilak or Morgan are seen as the cause of chivalric code collapse. So the poet signifies that society needs women to be under controlled. In order to do that women?s identity has to connect with their husband. So the similarity between all female characters in the poem is they are all lack of individuality. Often times, their roles have been reduced to instruments to test out the power of chivalric code. In brief, they are somewhat like a reflection of the knights whether they are accomplished as honorable knights or not. So women who willing to be dictated by men, like queen Guinevere, is much more preferred in the society. Even though the poet tries to dwindle away the importance of women whether by mentioning their name just few times or giving her no voice, but there is still the only one that sir Gawain has a special relationship with. She is Virgin Mary, the only women sir Gawain willing to diverse his role of a controller to be depending on her instead. ...read more.

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