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English 1022 Lecture on "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"

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Western University
English 1022E
David Bentley

English Lecture: November 2, 2010 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight On the Board: Pietas (Piety, covet behavior) Tentate Probationis Tentate Seductionas - consent to do something bad. fall from grace, into mortal sin. Caritas Cupid 1. The World 2. The Flesh 3. The Devil - These are the three main temptations. Part 3 l.1105 - 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 associations. - 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.
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