Throughout the Arthurian legends, the role of the mysterious hag is one that continually appears. The hag is often associated with great magical power and revelations - both physical and psychological. In "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell," Dame Ragnell is the magical hag that aids Arthur in his quest for the answer to the "Holy Female Question." It is ultimately because of the noble, chivalrous and courtly Sir Gawain, that the true identity of the hag can be revealed. While Dame Ragnell is not an evil character, the hag is ultimately a character of question. One must wonder how trustworthy the hag truly is when magic is involved. From other Arthurian legends, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight we can see that the hag is a malevolent character who uses the hag image as a guise to fool others. In the end, the hag's real image is generally revealed along with her goal. Dame Ragnell is not a beautiful woman who has intentionally taken the form of a hag trying to deceive others like Morgana LeFey in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Dame Ragnell offers the truth to the men of the story and proves Sir Gawain to be as honorable as his reputation says he is.
The story begins with Arthur hunting a stag in the forest. After the kill of the stag he stumbles upon a giant of a knight, Sir Gromer Somer Joure. In order to live, the knight makes a deal with Arthur. If he returns in a year and a day with an answer to the question "What do women want?" his life will be spared. Arthur and his confidant, Sir Gawain, ride throughout the land with two books. In these books they write down the answers they receive from women all over the land to Sir Gromer's question. Upon comparing their b...
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...n cursed? Where is the proof of this curse? Apparently she can become fair at some point on her own. Does this mean she too practices magic? How do we know Sir Gromer and Dame Ragnell are not one in the same? How do we know Dame Ragnell is not really Morgana LeFey? Who IS Dame Ragnell? What exactly is her goal in this story? Does Dame Ragnell simply want to show the men with the highest power the way to fulfill a woman's true desire? Is she, like countless political women, plan to change things from the inside of hierarchy? Dame Ragnell may not have been quite the innocent maiden she was portrayed as in her marriage to Sir Gawain. The lessons she teaches, and the awareness she brings to the court of Arthur are definitely timeless lessons that human beings are constantly being taught. Never judge a book by its cover - you never know what it might really have to say.
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