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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Essay by   •  February 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,030 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,017 Views

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There are many parallels that can be drawn from the three temptations, hunting scenes, and the three blows exchanged by the Green Knight. All of these scenes are intentionally interwoven in Gawain's quest; the trials he endures leading up to his meeting with the Green Knight, to fulfill his promise made the year before, are nicely interlocked. The correlations first start with the bargain that Bertilak makes with Sir Gawain. "That whatever I win in the woods be yours, and any achievement you chance on here, you exchange for it" (pg. 62). This is what sets the stage for the coming scenes of Bertilak's hunts in the woods, Gawain's temptations by the Lady of Bertilak, and the three blows exchanged by the Green Knight. Unknown to Gawain is that Bertilak's three hunts and the three temptations of the Lady is what decides the fate of the outcome of his meeting with the Green Knight. In the hunts of Bertilak, he hunts for the deer, the boar and the fox. Bertilak's Lady could also be said to be "on the hunt," for three different times does she try to tempt Gawain to succumb to her desires there by undermining Gawain's values and his beliefs; while Bertilak is on the hunt for the noble deer and boar and the cunning and deceitful fox.

On the first day Bertilak gives chase to the noble deer. The deer is characterized as being shy and elusive. A creature that would rather flee to safety then to try and fight its pursuers for its life. This parallels to the Lady and her first attempt to try and seduce Gawain. Gawain is given the qualities of the deer in her first attempt. For Gawain acts shy and looks for a way to stay true to his values and at the same time not give offense to the lady or to Bertilak. Evidence of this is given when it says: "the brave knight, embarrass, lay flat with adroitness and feigned sleep" (pg. 66). When Bertilak trades his spoils of the hunt Gawain trades all that he achieved that day, which was a kiss from the lady. He stars true to his values and therefore passes his first test of the three that he shall endure before his meeting with the Green Knight.

On the Second day, Bertilak gives chase to the noble boar. The boar is characterized by being elusive, but will also strike back and attack when cornered. "When he thrust through the hounds, hurling three to earth and speed on" (pg. 75). This parallels the way Gawain acts when tempted by the Lady for the second time. Fore Gawain, while holding to his values, tries to gently rebuke the lady saying: "sweet one, unsay that speech" (pg. 77). But when she persists he tells her with more force that, "But threateners are ill thought of and do not thrive in my country, nor do gifts thrive when given without good will" (pg. 77). In this second attempt by the Lady, Gawain again remains true to his values. So when Bertilak exchanges the boar for the two kisses given by the Lady he passes the second of the three tests he is to endure.

On the third day, Bertilak gives chase to the despised fox. The fox is characterized as being cunning and deceitful. This parallels the way that Gawain again, for the third time, resists the Lady's attempt to seduce him. She is determined to make him fall for her seduction. This is evident in that she comes to him with, "Her breast was bare and her back as well" (pg. 86). He resists her temptation physically but

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