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Gender Roles In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Decent Essays
The fourteenth century was not known for unconventional writing. Moreover, the first attempts at reform were occurring, causing assimilation and not much thought on sexism or the era’s prevalent misogyny. Yet, writers whether deliberately or unintentionally included gender roles in their text, as they play a considerable role in all aspects of society. Gender roles are apparent in both the Pearl Poet and Geoffrey Chaucer’s stories. However, the Pearl Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight fable furthers the sexist patriarchy, while Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale” actively dismantles conventional female roles. Both tale's descriptions of females, comments from the male protagonists, and the character development of each story's most prominent female character demonstrate the contrasting views in these texts.
When examining Middle Age texts through their gender roles, one must first consider the descriptive words used to depict the story’s males and females. The Pearl Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight draws upon the era’s traditional concepts of male and female roles. This is exemplified when the fable opens with tales of brave mythological heroes such as world-controlling Romulus and Aeneas, who represent the Middle Age’s idealized male roles of strength and superiority. In contrast, the first female is described through her clothes and delicate external beauty, objectifying and fetishizing her: “Queen Guenevere gaily dressed and placed in the middle, seated on the upper
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