The Tales Of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight And Lanval Essays

The Tales Of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight And Lanval Essays

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The tales of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Lanval offer their readers insight into a common knightly quandary. Gawain and Lanval are both faced with challenges that threaten their ability to protect, uphold, and affirm their very knightliness. The two knights repeatedly see several knightly traits--- each invaluable to the essence of a knight--- brought into conflict. While the knights are glorified in their respective texts, they are faced with impossible dilemmas; in each story, both reader and knight are confronted with the reality that knightly perfection is unattainable: concessions must be made--- bits and pieces of their honor must be sacrificed.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight takes its protagonist, the noble Gawain, through a moral test disguised as a physical one. Dressed as "The Green Knight," Bertilak barges into Arthur 's hall and greets its occupants with a simple "game": anyone who wishes may deal the mysterious newcomer a blow, given that they are willing to take one in return after a year. When the Green Knight questions the reputation of the Round Table, Arthur angrily steps forward, before Gawain, in a speech filled with false modesty (a speech he fittingly introduces as his "plain words "), asks to take the king 's place. The Green Knight survives his decapitation, and, in keeping with the terms of the promise (the first of many promises made throughout the tale), Gawain is required to seek him out a year later and suffer a blow. On his way to find the Green Knight, Gawain is hospitably taken in by none other than Bertilak himself (although the former obviously knows nothing of Bertilak 's secret), and upon agreeing to stay in Bertilak 's hall while he awaits his date with the Green Knight, Gawain enters...


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...ween men are done under the name of fellowship, and in the case of the kisses, honor. However, the homosocial aspects of fellowship bring the characters uncomfortably close to falling under the extremely unknightly--- as it is deemed in Lanval--- label of homosexuality, again bringing the reader 's attention to the potential incompatibility of the so-called chivalric traits.
While both men emerge from their impossible situations alive, neither is truly unscathed. Lanval 's masculinity is proved by the timely arrival of his lover, but is ironically emasculated through the reversal of gender roles: a damsel on a horse rides in to save the knight in distress and take him away. Gawain--- after breaking the promise by not giving up the girdle--- is left with a scar from Bertilak 's blow and wears the girdle over his shoulder as a second physical reminder of his failure.

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