Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Representations of Gender in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight College

Gender in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is caged within a static binary composed of the masculine and the feminine; relative opposites within which individuals are expected to conform to a certain quota of behaviors – for to fit into neither category would seemingly render a character useless to the plot: a celebration of masculine virtue. As a late Arthurian narrative, the poem appears much like its counterparts - posing Gawain of King Arthur’s court, an apparent epitome of this masculine virtue and chivalric value, in contest with the mysterious and similarly brawny Green Knight, later known as Lord Bertilak – creating an image of absolute, impenetrable masculinity. Interestingly, despite the constructions of masculinity retaining the narrative limelight, females appear to act as the architects of the plot of the poem, using their femininity, both through love and scorn, to dictate the actions of the masculine characters surrounding them. Not only does this confirm the static binary by making gender relative to narrative role, where the females generate plot and the male follows suit, there is, in addition, a contrasting blurring of what it means to be innately masculine or innately feminine. The blurring of binary...

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