Essay: Sir Gawain’s View on Women

Sample Essay

Sir Gawain also has high regard for the lady who accompanies the lovely wife of the lord.  He describes her as “an ancient, it seemed, and held in high honor by all men about.”  He goes on to compare the two ladies with a description most beautiful.

He is comparing their physical features, of course.  The headdress hung with pearls, the bright throat and bosom fair to behold, the chin of a lady, her forehead enfolded in flounces of silk – almost nothing is left out from Sir Gawain’s observation.  He later bows to the elder lady and salutes, embraces, and kisses the younger, fairer one.  And when he talks to the ladies, he asks to be their servant.  The lord, however, entertains the ladies and enchants them with his talks (Ashley).

We have to ask at this juncture: How would both Sir Gawain and the lord behave toward their wives who disobeyed them even slightly?  The story about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight does not answer our question with the view of the majority of medieval writers.  We are compelled to assume that both Sir Gawain and the lord would behave most chivalrously throughout their marital years, and with chivalry so evident, their women would not even consider disobeying them slightly.  After all, a medieval woman knows when to disobey and when not to (Brewer).

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