Comparing Lanval And Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Female Representation in Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight During a high point in medieval chivalric romance, both Marie de France’s Lanval and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tell fanciful tales of knighthood, chivalry, and spiritual and temporal (courtly) love. Both Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight portray their female characters as possessing considerable power and influence, within the events in the story and in the structure of the plot. Indeed, the female characters in both works function as the catalysts of the events within the stories, and also as instruments for each author's conveyed meaning. While Lanval presents its female characters in an unorthodox reversal of gender roles, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight employs the female characters as moral and spiritual trials for the hero, Sir Gawain. I will examine how the fairy princess and Queen Gwenevere in Marie de France's Lanval present a reversal of gender roles as was traditionally understood; she presents femininity as powerful, inspiring, and morally dynamic (for a woman can be ideal, or she can be corrupt). I will compare this to the representation of Lady Bertilak and Morgan le Fay in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in which they are used to convey a “Biblical” warning for an ecclesiastical audience; particularly that of moral failure and the temptation of the flesh. To enrich our understanding of Lanval it is essential to keep in mind the work’s authorship and the

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