Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Coursework
One in the same, we
wept as he stole us
Digging his knightly
blade into our souls
A crushing defeat
laid down at our feet
A mother, an aunt, a
lady, a maid
All his to be
Did I dare defy my husband
To use me as some
Sir Gawain was
youthful, that was the truth
A sad dog with keen
eyes and pretty mouth.
Poor boy was tempted
by such a wanton gift.
At round tables he
sat, equal to kings
Young and in heat,
believing old men’s tales
A woman is only what
A mother, an aunt, a
lady, a maid.
All else you must see as Devil’s work, boy.
Flawless beauty; the
worst trap for a man
Who actively hunts
for danger to halt
Growling after a day
of grim stillness
Man was not designed
to stay in the home;
He wished for a
lady’s warmth at night, not day.
And he with valiant
sword held in vice
Swollen digits curved
over the thick haft
Swung into life at
such a lusty plan
A mother, an aunt, a
lady, a maid;
Ruined great man’s
trust – or so the priests proclaim!
Named lady temptress
The husband I love
was not held in cuck
Or made to be foolish
in the eyes of Gods!
Was I the fooled or
foolish? Indeed, I was;
Dignity lost for a
that is I, my lord
For you to fear for I
break the code;
A lady temptress is
not a queen
Or a witch, for you
to slay like a beast.
I am simply confusion
in your mind.
The benevolent king
gave you the code
one code you must
follow my darling knight
In order to please
your king-god ruler;
My lord, it must be
difficult for you!
We both know what
infests your dream-like state.
It was all a trap, to
find you inner self
Did you find it,
valiant knight Gawain?
Or did you forget during
your time here,
In my bedding, my
home, my pride and joy?
Handsomely waiting in
my fine silk sheets.
Oh! the pleasure
denied by your beliefs!
My husband had
commanded it Gawain;
Yet I am the guilty party you despise.
I am sorry Gawain, to
have caused pain
To your precious
chivalric code of honour.
I will not allow
dishonour, my lord
To cause harm upon
our immortal souls.
For the Knight in
search of a better soul
How can I condemn a
quick, fleeting glance?
Beauty is my godly
gift, as you know
And I shall use it
when I wish to please
Again, as you know,
my darling Gawain
Yet you refused my
earthly pleasure? Why?
deny me fun in all senses.
my husband been a weaker man, Sir,
you take the opportunity?
your turn to be aggressive with me,
those masterful hands over my curves
show me what it means to have power?
would, Sir Gawain, enjoy this power
would feel as strong as you wish to be!
condemn me, knight when this is what you need?
loving embrace that cares for your needs
makes you feel loved. Appreciated.
tell me, courteous Knight, if I win.
I shall wait by my husband’s warm side
we perhaps meet again by chance.
I shall give you true power, Gawain
you shall free me from lady confines.
The 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight offers up a chivalric tale of
warning in which men are portrayed as the dominant sex until sexual temptation
comes into play. Lady Bertilak, the sorceress Morgan Le Fay and Queen Guinevere
are the three named female roles within the poem, all three fulfilling the
subservient roles expected. Guinevere is a beautiful wife and queen, the ‘most
loveliest’ that Sir Gawain has ever seen. It is clearly evident from this line
that the reader is meant to perceive the queen as only an aesthetic reason for
Gawain to keep upon the chivalric code. ‘loveliest’ suggests that Guinevere is
well-respected and benevolent; much like Arthur, her husband. Guinevere is
treated 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 been
asking her to trick and deceive Sir Gawain during his time in Hautdesert. She
is articulate, crafting her words in order to make Sir Gawain unsure of his
social position. She devalues his role as Knight by mocking that he ‘cannot
grasp the rules of polite behaviour’; Gawain is made feel inferior to Lady
Bertilak. The verb ‘grasp’ furthers the idea of Lady Bertilak being
academically equal or superior to Gawain; a trait which is treated as a
negative by the Pearl Poet, who uses as a way to demonise sensual women. Pearl
Poet makes a clear link between the intellect of a woman and the potential
danger they are to holy men such as a noble Knight. Rather than be her own
person with her own individual mind – Bertilak becomes another obstacle for
Gawain to overcome as he continues on his journey to better himself. Her
intellect is treated much like her sensuality; it becomes a moral issue for
Gawain, who believes it to be an ‘unholy temptation’. When looking at feminist
philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, it is important to think of her work ‘The
Second Sex’ and the idea that ‘one is not born, but becomes, a woman’. Bertilak
becomes what the Pearl Poet perceives to be a woman through her being ‘the
loveliest on earth’, putting her immediately on par with the Queen Guinevere.
Pearl Poet uses the adjective ‘loveliest’ to speak about both Guinevere and
Lady Bertilak initially, although his language for the lady does devolve
significantly throughout the poem. The adjective ‘loveliest’ shows that Gawain
is puritan in his thoughts; lovely can describe their physical appearance,
their manner, their way of speech – it is left deliberately vague as a way to
present the titular character as being the pinnacle of chivalric. He does not
become aware of any sexual beauty until his is suggested to him openly; Lady
Bertilak is the catalyst to unholy thoughts that cause Gawain to falter on his
journey to find his better self. It does not matter that Lady Bertilak is
clearly intellectually superior to her husband and the other men around her;
Pearl poet uses it to make her even more villainous.