Role of Women in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Wife of Bath's Tale

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Lopez-Navarro British Lit. 2322 4 October 2012 The Role of Women in Two Tales If you study several literary works across the centuries, you will note women’s roles have differed. The legendary work Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as the Wife of Bath’s Tale, include female characters with very distinct roles. Even though the women do not portray significant characters in these works, they do serve to create intense interest. The knight’s tale, an alliterative romance and one of the better-known Arthurian stories, and the wife’s tale, the best-known of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, give insight into the specific roles of women in the late Middle Ages. The two tales want the reader to determine and recognize that the women are mostly portrayed as manipulative seductresses. Many times a woman is blamed for a man’s fall from goodness to evil. Other times, the plots include women who meet the expectations of what some during the times believed women should be—more reflective to the bible, loyal to their husbands, pure, sweet, and helpless. In the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Lady Bertilak, the main female character and the most important characters in this medieval poem, is prompted by her husband to discover if Sir Gawain is pure or not. She tests his purity. She is determined to find if he can adhere to the code of chivalry, as all good knights should do. Over a period of three days, Lady Bertilak comes into the bedroom at early dawn where Sir Gawain is sleeping and makes an attempt to seduce him. She plays games of seduction and of courtship in an attempt to sway him from the perfect knight he should be. Sir Gawain’s honor and loyalty to his faith, and his commitment to his role as a knight in Medieval Period, is tested once,
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