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Gender Roles: Men And Women From The Anglo Saxon To The Renaissance Era Part 2

2332 words - 10 pages

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows a woman that is seductive toward a man which is not her husband, but only because her husband orders her to. This is proven when: “The lovely lady came laughing sweetly, / Fell over his fair face and fondly kissed him; / Sir Gawain welcomed her worthily and with pressure; / He found her so glorious, so attractively dressed, / So faultless in every feature, her colors so fine / Welling joy rushed up in his heart at once” (58-63). The Lady is trying to seduce Sir Gawain, but he rightfully declines her offer. The fact that The Lady is looking so pleasing and she is kissing him, that does not seem to interfere with the way Sir Gawain feels about her at that moment. He is able to stink to what he believes in, and helping her commit adultery was not about of his belief system. Sir Gawain encounters another uncomfortable situation with The Lady when: “For that priceless princess pressed our here so hard / And drove him so close to the line that she left him no choice / But to take the full pleasure she offered or flatly refuse her; / He feared for his name, lest men . . . But he feared even more what evil might follow his fall / If he dared to betray his just duty as guest to his host” (71-76). Sir Gawain did not want to sleep with The Lady because he did not want to violate the Chivalric Code. During that time period, men and women had to obey the Chivalric Code, which was a system of ideas and social codes governing the behavior of knights and gentlewomen. Leeming also mentions that, “Chivalry brought about an idealized attitude toward women, but it did little to improve their actual position” (Leeming 82). The Chivalric Code brought a certain level of respect to the women of that time, even though it did not exactly change the way they were treated overall. The people also lived by a principle called Courtly Love, which required a knight to admire and act in the name of a certain lady. However, the knight and the lady were never supposed to cross the line of physical love. Sir Gawain knew that if he crossed that line, his name would have been cursed. The Lord confesses that he was the reason The Lady was trying to cross that line of physical love when he mentions: “That sash you wear by your scabbard belongs to me; / My own wife gave it to you, as I ought to know. / I know, too, of your kisses and all your words / And my wife’s advances, for I myself arranged them” (369-372). This quote proves that The Lord is the reason that The Lady tries to seduce Sir Gawain. It may not seem right to force someone to perform actions that he or she may not want to do, but as a woman it was her duty to do anything that a man wants her to do. If The Lady chose not to do what her husband ordered her to do, it would not be good on her part. Women had to deal with not being accepted by society until the Renaissance gained them access to things that were once not allowed, however some opportunities were still unavailable.
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