Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Coursework One in the same, wewept as he stole usDigging his knightlyblade into our soulsA crushing defeatlaid down at our feetA mother, an aunt, alady, a maidAll his to beenjoyed, corrupted. Did I dare defy my husbandhis rightTo use me as someotherworldly bait?Sir Gawain wasyouthful, that was the truthA sad dog with keeneyes and pretty mouth.Poor boy was temptedby such a wanton gift.
At round tables hesat, equal to kingsYoung and in heat,believing old men’s talesA woman is only whatshe presents;A mother, an aunt, alady, a maid.All else you must see as Devil’s work, boy. Flawless beauty; theworst trap for a manWho actively huntsfor danger to haltGrowling after a dayof grim stillnessMan was not designedto stay in the home;He wished for alady’s warmth at night, not day.
And he with valiantsword held in viceSwollen digits curvedover the thick haftSwung into life atsuch a lusty planA mother, an aunt, alady, a maid;Ruined great man’strust – or so the priests proclaim!Named lady temptressof HautdesertThe husband I lovewas not held in cuckOr made to be foolishin the eyes of Gods!Was I the fooled orfoolish? Indeed, I was;Dignity lost for acowardly Lord. Aggressive beauty,that is I, my lordFor you to fear for Ibreak the code;A lady temptress isnot a queen Or a witch, for youto slay like a beast.I am simply confusionin your mind. The benevolent kinggave you the codeone code you mustfollow my darling knightIn order to pleaseyour king-god ruler;My lord, it must bedifficult for you!We both know whatinfests your dream-like state. It was all a trap, tofind you inner selfDid you find it,valiant knight Gawain?Or did you forget duringyour time here,In my bedding, myhome, my pride and joy?Handsomely waiting inmy fine silk sheets. Oh! the pleasuredenied by your beliefs!My husband hadcommanded it Gawain; Yet I am the guilty party you despise.I am sorry Gawain, tohave caused painTo your preciouschivalric code of honour.
I will not allowdishonour, my lordTo cause harm uponour immortal souls.For the Knight insearch of a better soulHow can I condemn aquick, fleeting glance? Beauty is my godlygift, as you knowAnd I shall use itwhen I wish to pleaseAgain, as you know,my darling GawainYet you refused myearthly pleasure? Why? Mendeny me fun in all senses. Hadmy husband been a weaker man, Sir, Wouldyou take the opportunity? Takeyour turn to be aggressive with me, Trailthose masterful hands over my curves Andshow me what it means to have power? Youwould, Sir Gawain, enjoy this powerYouwould feel as strong as you wish to be!Whycondemn me, knight when this is what you need?Aloving embrace that cares for your needsAndmakes you feel loved. Appreciated. Sotell me, courteous Knight, if I win.ForI shall wait by my husband’s warm sideUntilwe perhaps meet again by chance.
AndI shall give you true power, GawainAndyou shall free me from lady confines. The 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight offers up a chivalric tale ofwarning in which men are portrayed as the dominant sex until sexual temptationcomes into play. Lady Bertilak, the sorceress Morgan Le Fay and Queen Guinevereare the three named female roles within the poem, all three fulfilling thesubservient roles expected. Guinevere is a beautiful wife and queen, the ‘mostloveliest’ that Sir Gawain has ever seen. It is clearly evident from this linethat the reader is meant to perceive the queen as only an aesthetic reason forGawain to keep upon the chivalric code. ‘loveliest’ suggests that Guinevere iswell-respected and benevolent; much like Arthur, her husband. Guinevere istreated with respect whenever she is mentioned in the poem.
Lady Bertilak’s position in the poem remains villainous,despite in being revealed that it is her husband, Lord Bertilak, who has beenasking her to trick and deceive Sir Gawain during his time in Hautdesert. Sheis articulate, crafting her words in order to make Sir Gawain unsure of hissocial position. She devalues his role as Knight by mocking that he ‘cannotgrasp the rules of polite behaviour’; Gawain is made feel inferior to LadyBertilak. The verb ‘grasp’ furthers the idea of Lady Bertilak beingacademically equal or superior to Gawain; a trait which is treated as anegative by the Pearl Poet, who uses as a way to demonise sensual women. PearlPoet makes a clear link between the intellect of a woman and the potentialdanger they are to holy men such as a noble Knight. Rather than be her ownperson with her own individual mind – Bertilak becomes another obstacle forGawain to overcome as he continues on his journey to better himself. Herintellect is treated much like her sensuality; it becomes a moral issue forGawain, who believes it to be an ‘unholy temptation’. When looking at feministphilosopher Simone de Beauvoir, it is important to think of her work ‘TheSecond Sex’ and the idea that ‘one is not born, but becomes, a woman’.
Bertilakbecomes what the Pearl Poet perceives to be a woman through her being ‘theloveliest on earth’, putting her immediately on par with the Queen Guinevere.Pearl Poet uses the adjective ‘loveliest’ to speak about both Guinevere andLady Bertilak initially, although his language for the lady does devolvesignificantly throughout the poem. The adjective ‘loveliest’ shows that Gawainis puritan in his thoughts; lovely can describe their physical appearance,their manner, their way of speech – it is left deliberately vague as a way topresent the titular character as being the pinnacle of chivalric. He does notbecome aware of any sexual beauty until his is suggested to him openly; LadyBertilak is the catalyst to unholy thoughts that cause Gawain to falter on hisjourney to find his better self. It does not matter that Lady Bertilak isclearly intellectually superior to her husband and the other men around her;Pearl poet uses it to make her even more villainous.