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My Interpretive Essay #1

By Wranglers1fan Sep 11, 2013 509 Words
The Lady of the Castle continually tests Gawain's inherent characteristics of truth and loyalty in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." She appears to Gawain three times and tempts him to abandon his integrity. Although unsuccessful in her first two attempts, the Lady finally breaks down Gawain's defenses during their third bedroom encounter. Initially, she captivates Gawain by presenting herself as physically beautiful. After appealing to Gawain's need for security and salvation, she offers him a green sash as protection against his deadly fate, providing him with a sense of hope and guaranteeing his safety. The Lady then finds a way around Gawain's stoic demeanor by relieving his fear of certain death.

The Lady of the Castle partly relieves Gawain's anxiety during their third meeting because of her beautiful appearance. She approaches Gawain dressed "In a gorgeous gown, [. . .] lined with pieces of the most precious pelts" (lines 1736, 1737). As she awakens Gawain, "Her enchanting face and throat were entirely exposed, / And her breasts and her back were also remarkably bare" (1740-1741). The Lady's lovely appearance has a tremendous affect on Gawain, interrupting his nightmares about his destiny and transforming his negative apprehensions into positive feelings. The Lady "seemed so gorgeous, so gloriously attired, / So faultless in her features and fair complexion" that Gawain forgets his fate (1760-1761). As the text indicates, her charming presence replaces Gawain's "grievous thoughts" with "warm joy" (1751, 1762). She contributes the "bliss and bonhomie" that eases Gawain's anxiety (1764). The Lady offers Gawain temporary reprieve from his innermost fears.

After flaunting her flawless appearance, the Lady of the Castle further diminishes Gawain's fears by offering her green sash. She intentionally stresses the protective powers of the sash, stating "For whoever is girded by this green-colored sash [. . .] No creature under the heavens may cut him down, / And he can't be killed by any earthly cunning" (1851,1853-1854). The Lady once again fills Gawain with hope-by giving him a "magic gem against the jeopardy ahead" and satisfying his need for protection against his enemy (1856). The Lady has finally found a temptation that Gawain cannot resist-a revival of hope and promise for the future. The Lady successfully gives Gawain the sash as a token of his salvation. She soothes the knight's uneasiness regarding his upcoming battle by giving him a chance to "escape intact" (1858).

The Lady of the Castle offers Gawain assurance throughout their final encounter. She carefully works through a two-step plan to ease his dread concerning his future. First, she uses her stunning appearance to make the knight feel safe and happy. She appears to Gawain in radiant beauty, which calms his anxiety. Secondly, she gives Gawain the green sash as a symbol of security, explaining that the sash can save him from imminent danger. The Lady preys upon his need for salvation. She convinces Gawain that she holds the key for his survival. The Lady relieves Gawain's fears both by her positive appearance and by her offer of a concrete form of protection.

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