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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – The Hunting Scenes
Often when a story or lesson is to be relayed, the teller will describe the story or lesson by using an example that parallels the lesson. This can be an effective method of portraying a story. in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the hunting scenes of Bertilak parallel the tests given to Gawain during his stay at Hautdesert Castle.
Bertilak's first hunting scene was of a deer hunt. Bertilak knew when he first started his hunt that he would have to use similar skills against this animal of great speed and nimbleness. Bertilak knew he would have to display patience and stealth to hunt this animal- Back at the castle, Gawain also had to use similar skills to resist Bertilak's wife's advances. When first approached by Bertilak's wife, Gawain reacted by lying still as if he were asleep, and then using his alertness and stealth to evade Bertilak's wife's temptations. This was portrayed when the author writes, "Lay hidden till the light of day gleamed on the walls,/Covered with fair canopy/" (1181-1182). Sir Gawain evaded Bertilak's wife's advances using skills of patience and stealth, which paralleled the skills that would similarly be used when hunting deer.
Bertilak then hunts a viscous boar- In this hunt, people and animals were severely injured. Different from hunting a deer, Bertilak must use different skills to hunt the boar. Similarly, Gawain must use a different approach when he is again visited by the lady. Like the boar, the lady's approach to Gawain is more forward. Both Bertilak and Gawain must each use strength, aggressiveness and stamina in their battles. Sir Gawain shows this strength when he says, 'Tor I dared not do that lest I be denied./ If I were forward and refused, the fault would be mine./" (1494-1495).
In the third and final hunting scene, Bertilak hunts a cunning fox. In this instance, the hunter must use his own wit to outsmart the fox. Bertilak knows this. He uses his intelligence and quick wit to outsmart the fox. Sir Gawain also experienced a cunning test. Gawain used his sly wit against the lady's third visit by cunningly resisting her offers because of his vows and the fact that he is a guest in Bertilak's home. Sir Gawain resists the lady's advances, as well as her offer of an expensive gift, The lady then offered Sir Gawain a green sash.
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There are subtle, yet significant parallels between Bertilak's hunting expeditions and the three seductive encounters between Sir Gawain and the lady. These parallels effectively portray the relationship between Sir Gawain and Bertilak's wife.