Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

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Women, Courtly Love and the Creation Myth in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 	Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a great epic written in fourteenth century Europe by the Pearl poet, emphasizes the opposition of Christian love to Courtly love in the 13th century through the dilemma of Sir Gawain, one of the great knights of the Arthurian round table. By examining the women in the poem, Gawain's dilemma becomes a metaphor for the contrast of these two distinct types of love. The poem looks upon the Virgin Mary as the representative of spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life (Warner 9). In contrast, Morgan le Fay and Bertilak's wife appear to be representing courtly love, disobedience, lust and death. This conflict between…show more content…
On Christmas morning, for example, instead of finding comfort in the spiritual meaning of Christmas, Gawain finds comfort being seated with the lady. The bedroom scenes, however, depict the true moral battles of Gawain. During the three-day period, there is a spiraling trend. The events keep happening in the same way on a higher and higher level until Gawain is forced to give in to her desires. While he is able to see that his chastity is more important than his courtesy, he is still desperately trying to balance the two (DeRoo, 314). His inability to choose between them leads him to accept the girdle. While Mary, representing his spiritual love and faith, saves him from losing his chastity, "great peril between them stood, unless Mary for her knight should pray" (Adams, 241). Gawain still denies his love for her when faced with the love of the lady. Gawain's loss of devotion is the key to his downfall, for it was his faith in Mary, which gave him strength and courage. 	By giving up the pentangle in exchange for the girdle, which supposedly has magical powers that will protect him, Gawain becomes torn between chivalry and religion. At this point things start to get a bit "knotty": Gawain, religion and chivalry become equivalent, intertwined and interdependent. The concept of knots can also be applied to the icons in this story. The pentangle is a knot that has no beginnings or end, symbolizing

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