The Role Of Women In Sir Gaiwa


In the Fourteenth Century, Feudalism and its offspring, chivalry, were in decline due to drastic social and economic changes. In this light, _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_ presents both a nostalgic support of the feudal hierarchies and an implicit criticism of changes, which, if left unchecked will lead to its ultimate destruction. I would suggest that the women in the story are the Gawain poet's primary instruments in this critique and reinforcement of Feudalism. By positioning The Virgin Mary (as the singular female archetype representing spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life) against Morgan and Bertilak's wife (who represent the traditional female archetypes of courtly love, ...

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but Ruth Hamilton believes that "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains a more wide-ranging, more serious criticism of chivalry than has heretofore been noticed" (113). Specifically, she feels that the poet is showing Gawain's reliance on chivalry's outside form and substance at the expense of the original values of the Christian religion from which it sprang. As she shows, "the first order of knights were monastic ones, who took vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. The first duties the knights undertook, the crusades, were for the Church" (113). The great divergence in the two came with the rise of courtly love in which the knights were led to great feats of bravery and uplift by devotion to a mistress rather than God. Given the Church's mistrust of women and the flesh, the contradiction seems clear. Hamilton tells us there was a mass of clerical writings in the Fourteenth Century that were critical of chivalry and show the split between chivalry and the church during that ...

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including Delilah and Bathsheba (1216-19).
But Lady Bertilak is also strongly associated the romantic archetype of "courtly love". As such, Fries says, the Lady "becomes the ambivalent mirror in which the knight pictures his own potential for moral achievement or moral failure in terms of the male warrior ethos such literature was designed to glorify" (28). Even before examining the Lady's operation in the bedroom, the moral contradiction between the two archetypes is evident and defines the dilemma he will face.

If we look now look at the unique archetype of the Virgin Mary and her special relationship to Gawain, we see how the poet has structured the bedroom scene as the ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 4/23/2005 12:09:06 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 5377
Pages: 20

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