In "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," the interlacing of the hunting and bedroom scenes are essential features. How are we invited to respond?
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the interlacing of the hunting and bedroom scenes follow a romance plot convention and is a prominent feature of the poem. How are we invited to respond?
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The hunting scenes and bedroom scenes are used as parallels in the story.
The whole idea behind Bertilak's (the Green Knight) behavior is to test Gawain, to see if he is worthy of being called a true and honorable knight of King Arthur's court.
The hunting done by Bertilak parallels the attempted seduction of Gawain by Bertilak's wife. Literally, Bertilak is hunting during the day, and comes home to share the fruits of his endeavors. However, figuratively, Bertilak is hunting, too, for some sense of the honor Gawain professes to have in serving Arthur. So as Bertilak "hunts" for answers, his wife "hunts" as well, each day trying to get Gawain to behave dishonorably with her, taking advantage of the hospitality of Bertilak. (And remember, Gawain does not know that Bertilak is really the Green Knight.)
According to "Notes on Middle English Romance" compiled by Jonathan A. Glenn (see website listed below), the tale of Gawain is not written as a cause and effect story, "but in terms of juxtaposition and analogy ("this is like that")." The juxtaposition is the hunting in the woods and the "pursuit" in the bedroom.
In essence, I would suggest then, that we are asked to look at the story and realize that the one part of the story (hunting by Berilak) coincides with his wife's pursuits in judging the worth of a man (Gawain). The reader is supposed to understand that Gawain lives with honor when he refuses to be seduced by his host's wife. The author of the Gawain tale wants the reader to also understand, as Berilak himself does, that Gawain's only flaw (in concealing the gift of the magic "belt") is his desire to live when he is sure the Green Knight will kill him.
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