Essay: DOES THE POEM PROVIDE A POSITIVE REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN?
The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, supposedly written in the mid to late fourteenth century, shows the decline of both the code of Chivalry and of Feudalism. In a desperate effort to reinforce the ideals of Feudalism, the poet, evidently bias towards the Christian church and its values, use the female gender as the primary causes of this decay. At the time, the religious values were deeply weakened by the conflict between religious love and courtly love and also by an always underlying “Code of Chivalry” which had changed from a set of Christian to a set of immoral values. This process of Christian decay was highly influenced by the rise of courtly love in which the knights were led to feats of bravery and devotion to a mistress rather than God.
The world of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, never intends to present women as powerful but rather, women are clear examples of the dark forces and dangers lurking beneath feudalism and chivalry. In the medieval world of the poet, women and their doings were to be mistrusted. Thus, HE provides a set of biblical and classical models to depict the female gender as a subversive force that causes doom to all men on earth. The game of courtly love was breaking social bonds which hold feudalism together. In this game, men were forced outside of the traditional male hierarchies, placed on equal footing with a woman, and not subject to the feudal loyalty system. Throughout the poem, the warning is clear cut: this dichotomy between chivalric and Christian values will inevitably end in destruction of Feudalism and its set of values: Christianity.
From the very beginning, there is a clear contrast between two iconic female figures. On the one hand, the Virgin Mary and all the positive moral values she embodies. On the other hand, the female gender, descendants of Eve (iconic figure of temptress, symbol of lust and the