Chivalry In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

Chivalry In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay-87
Eve’s antithesis is the Virgin Mary, who is the only women who achieves motherhood while maintaining her chastity; she represents spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life That Gawain is Mary’s Knight is made clear as he is robed for battle; the pentangle represents the five joys of Mary, and he has “that queen’s image / Etched on the inside of his armored shield” (648-649).As long as he is solely focused on his quest for the Green Knight, he derives his prowess and courage from his special relationship with Mary.Instead of finding solace in the meaning of Christmas, Gawain and the Lady “found such solace and satisfaction seated together, in the discrete confidences of their courtly dalliance” (1011-12).

Eve’s antithesis is the Virgin Mary, who is the only women who achieves motherhood while maintaining her chastity; she represents spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life That Gawain is Mary’s Knight is made clear as he is robed for battle; the pentangle represents the five joys of Mary, and he has “that queen’s image / Etched on the inside of his armored shield” (648-649).As long as he is solely focused on his quest for the Green Knight, he derives his prowess and courage from his special relationship with Mary.Instead of finding solace in the meaning of Christmas, Gawain and the Lady “found such solace and satisfaction seated together, in the discrete confidences of their courtly dalliance” (1011-12).

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This points out a serious conflict; in the game of courtly love, a man is forced outside of the traditional male hierarchies, placed on equal footing with a woman, and not subject to the feudal loyalty system.

Above all, unlike the other contests established by men where the rules are clearly defined, the Lady’s game is ambiguous.

The poet uses the contrast between the Virgin Mary with Lady Bertilak’s wife to point out the conflict between courtly and spiritual love that he felt had weakened the religious values behind chivalry.

The poem warns that a loss of the religious values behind chivalry would lead to its ultimate destruction.

Now, instead, the Lady has drawn him away from Mary and made him forget the significance of the day. From the first day of their bedroom sessions, the Lady subtly establishes a bargain of her own with Gawain; one based on his prowess in courtly love.

By becoming her knight Gawain has entered into another bargain, but now Gawain’s bargain is with a woman rather than a man, and his ability to please her with his talk is being tested rather than a “true” chivalric value such as loyalty, valor or truthfulness.

Camelot is portrayed in its youth, long before it too is tainted by Lancelot and courtly love; Arthur is young, “child-like (86)” and the “fine fellowship [of Camelot] was in its fair prime.” The analogy is obvious: Arthur’s court embodies chivalry’s pure roots, where martial exploits were the primary subject of interest, whereas Bertilak’s castle represents the low point of the degeneration the poet perceives chivalry to have undergone.

The Lady’s association with courtly love also ties this aspect of chivalry with degeneration and sin.

This bargain, compared with Gawain’s exchange of winning bargain with Bertilak and beheading game Bargain with the Green Knight, highlight the conflict of values in chivalry.

In contrast to Arthur’s classic values, the Lady believes that “the choicest thing in Chivalry, the chief thing praised, / is the loyal sport of love” (1512-13).

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