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Essay on Temptation in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Temptation in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  


In the poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," Gawain is a guest at Hautdesert Castle. During his stay at the castle, three separate hunts take place. These hunts also parallel temptations aimed at Gawain by the wife of the Lord of Hautdesert Castle. In each hunt scene, a characteristic of the prey of that hunt is personified in Gawain's defense against the advances of the Lord's wife.

    The first temptation of Gawain is perhaps the most difficult for him to defend. This temptation corresponds with the hunt scene involving a deer, In terms of the hunt, the deer is hunted because it is a staple of the diet, or it is something that satisfies a person. In the same manner, the Lord's wife viewed Gawain as art animal that she was hunting. She was pursued him on the sole basis of her carnal desire. This, her first temptation, is totally sexual. She says "Do with me as you will: that well pleases Inc.,/ For I Surrender speedily and sue for grace Which, to my mind, since I must, is much the best Course" (1215-1217-) She is viewing Gawain much as a hunter would view a deer. She has no interest in any kind of relationship, and she is not extensively flirting with him as she does in the next two temptations; she simply wants sex from him, plain and simple. She is, in a sense, "hunting" Gawain; hunting in that she is pursuing Gawain for the sole purpose of making him her trophy. If he falls prey to this temptation, then she has slain him. In his reaction to the lady, Gawain acts much like a deer. He first tries to entirely ignore her, but this tactic was unsuccessful. Then, he stealthily avoids her advances, not directly confronting her, but subtly downplaying the magnitude of her ...


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...ce comes into play here as well; he accepts this sash as a foxy attempt to outwit the Green Knight in their pending encounter. In accepting this sash, though, Gawain has shown his weakness, cowardice. As a knight, Gawain is supposed to be protected by God alone. By accepting the sash, Gawain has shown that he has lost his faith in God, since lie feels the sash will do a better job in protecting him than God would. While it may be his only weakness, Gawain's cowardice has done him no good in acting as a honorable, God-fearing knight.

    In these temptations, it is evident that Gawain was being tested. Knowing the final out come of the story, it is possible to see that Bertilak and his wife planned the hunts and temptations to coincide with each other. Whether this is true or not, Gawain has certainly proven his honor during his brief stay at Hautdesert Castle.


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