Temptation Of Women In Sir Gaiwan Essay

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Temptation Of Women In Sir Gaiwan Essay, Research Paper During the 14th century, chivalry was in a decline due to drastic social and economic changes. Feudalism along with chivalry will fall for many reasons, but the author of Gawain blames the fall on the loss of religious values within the knights. The author uses women in the story as the main instrument to reinforce feudalism, for example: Lady Bertilak and The Virgin Mary are used to contrast the good and evil that a knight has to face; courtly and spiritual love. With this, women are weakening the religious values behind chivalry with their temptations towards sin, and the author warns the audience that the loss of religious values behind chivalry will lead to its ultimate destruction. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is

a romantic celebration of chivalry. The original thoughts of chivalry were Christian values such as poverty, chastity, service to God, and all crusades that were taken by knights were to prove their faith in God. But as time went on to the 14th century, knights began to lead their great deeds by devotion to a mistress rather than their God. Men began to gain desire for the flesh of another, rather then for the protection of their souls. The author shows that woman can be used as a message to show the Church s mistrust of women. The author always portrays the evil women, but tends to show that the Virgin Mary always comes out on top, and chivalry will live on because good defeats evil. Mary, representing the good, is prayed to by Gawain and in turn she gives him the help to be

strong and survive. She obtained her goodness by being the only woman who ever achieved motherhood while maintaining her chastity. She represents spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life. Gawain uses Mary as a reassurance of protection. He has that queen s image / etched on the inside of his armored shield (648-49) and he prays to the image when he senses trouble. Also on his shield is the pentangle, or endless knot (p. 147), which represents the 5 joys of Mary. Gawain strives to hold true to Mary and to her wills, but he has many temptations to deal with. Lady Bertilak on the other hand represents the evil and temptations that a knight has to fight and avoid. Lady Bertilak works alone in the bedroom and in public before the people of the castle at banquets and she

single-handedly taints the chevalier, causing him to break bargains and also to go against the good, and therefore breaking his vow of feudalism. Within the bible and the book, Lady Bertilak represents the traditional female example of courtly love, disobedience, lust, and death. She is everything that was made to stop and destroy a male chevalier whose mission in life is to do all good and no evil. Lady Bertilak uses her body to press him so hotly (p. 87) and showed him that he was permitted to enter her, but Gawain s temptation was overridden by Mary s will, and he replied to her: Then gently, By Saint John, Said the knight with a smile, I owe my oath to none, Nor wish to yet a while. (p. 88) By Gawain saying this to Lady Bertilak, he not only courteously removed himself from

temptation, but he also dishonored Mary, for he said he doesn t owe his oath to anyone. The constant fight of good and evil between the woman will remain with Gawain throughout his entire journey. Gawain went along his journey to the Green Chapel where he was to have his head cut off. As he traveled during the Winter in the cold woods, he began to pray to Mary; And thee Mary, Mildest mother so dear, that in some haven with due honor I may hear mass and Matins tomorrow morning. (p. 49). By asking Mary for a shelter and somewhere in which he could pray in Christmas Eve, Gawain believes that She answers him by showing him to Bertilak s Castle, which will actually bring him to a test of chivalry. When he arrives at the castle, he is thankful for the success he received with finding a