The Role of Lady Bertilak in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

1665 Words Jul 30th, 2013 7 Pages
The Role of Lady Bertilak in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The role of women was a key role in medieval times. In the poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, two women represent this role. They are Lady Bertilak, who is Lord Bertilak’s wife, and Morgan La Faye. It all starts when Sir Gawain is welcomed to Lord Bertilak’s castle and then he meets these two women living there. At all times, Bertilak requests Gawain to feel at home and socialize with these women without problems. Bertilak trusts Gawain even though he would be away and Gawain would remain alone with women. However, his nameless wife uses many different ways to chase Sir Gawain and take advantage of her condition as the host’s wife. Lady Bertilak is a superior being that
…show more content…
The knight endangers his manhood accepting Lady Bertilak’s purpose. So, we can say that manhood includes Christian, chivalric and loyal codes that are the cornerstone of a moral value. Moreover, it is normal that men make the first moves but in this case, Lord Bertilak’s wife makes it. As June states “The Lady is the one “making the first move”, so to speak, but it is ultimately Gawain who decides what is to become of those actions” (24). She does it because of her self-confidence and feels herself a superior being to him which was not normal at all in women at that time. Also, there is an important part that I have to mention. Maybe it’s considered as one of the most relevant parts in whole poem and is when Lady Bertilak gives away her girdle to Sir Gawain.. This simple action encloses many meanings by scholars and authors:
“Since you reject my ring, too rich it may seem, for you would not be so high beholden to me,
I shall give you my girdle: that profits you less” (¶. 73, P. 69)
The girdle embodies a supernatural power held by Lady Bertilak. Sheila Fisher indicates that “This shifting of blame and power is demonstrated through the path the girdle takes as a symbol and who it is associated with” (90). While the girdle holds a power which would save Gawain’s life, it also encloses a certain degree of blame. Because of this, he will have to carry the burden of shame for the rest of his life by having accepted her