English Lecture: November 2, 2010
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
On the Board:
Pietas (Piety, covet behavior)
Tentate Seductionas - consent to do something bad. fall from grace, into mortal
1. The World
2. The Flesh
3. The Devil
- These are the three main temptations.
- They hunt a deer, boar, and a fox.
- First two are noble animals, would be found on crests. But fox is a
vermin, a nuisance. One has positive associations, one has negative
- External Hunt
- Internal Hunt: For Sir Gawain in the castle.
- St. Augustines Idea of Temptation
- If Sir Gawain falls for the lady, he violates the sin of Lust and he violates the
commandment of committing adultery
- There won’t be a seduction because the consequences would be too bad.
- Gawain has to prove his worthiness and fitness. Is he capable of resisting
temptation and can he do it without being discourteous to the lady?
- Sir Gawain responds by praising the lady with good manners and humility.
- l.1260, l.1276: See how careful Gawain is. “you are bound to a better man”.
- l.1305: she kisses him, she has taken initiative. He is completely blameless here.
- How is this related to hunt for the female deer?
- The deer was allegorical/emblamatic of caution, wariness. Deer are
extremely difficult to hunt because theyre so skittish.
- Residue: We think of people as powerful as a lion, followers like a sheep
etc. One to one equivalences. But in the Middle Ages the Deer
represented caution. - l.1158, 1160, 1170: Deer is described as wary.
- No coincidence in the description of Gawain as he sits on the bed; he is
described as wary too. l.1186. Because he is cautious, he is able to avoid
falling into sin and being discourteous to her.
- Montage technique works with the deer.
- What about the boar?
- Fiercest animals you can imagine. Allegorical/emblematic of power.
- Difficult to hunt. Hunting them in Germany is still a dangerous activity.
- Boar is associated with power, fierceness; different from deer
- l.1461: the strength of the boar is emphasized.
- l.1495: Second hunt, the lady makes an appeal to Gawains strength.
- On the third day, the animal is a Fox, piece of vermin.
- Two types: Black Fox and Red Fox. l.1920: Red Fox. A black fox
represents the devil, red foxes are associated with the desire to get
something or keep something that you do not need. Avarice.
Covetousness, the second deadly sin.
- l.1736: Heaviest temptation of all.
- Much emphasis is placed on the beauty and wealth of her garments.
- l.1757: Kisses him.
- l.1817: Comes at him with the temptation of wealth. But Gawain refuses
temptation of material wealth.