1 Answer | Add Yours
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain holds to his vows of chastity when Lady Bertilak tries to seduce him.
In Book III, section 49, Lady Bertilak makes her first move on Gawain.
She has locked the door, and tells him she is there for his pleasure. However, in section 51, he resists her seduction:
I have closed the door, it's securely locked;
and since I have in this house he whom all admire,
I shall spend my time in speech I am sure
My person's yours, of course,
to see you take your pleasure;
I am obliged, perforce,
to serve you at your leisure."
...I am proud to be prized so highly.Gawain diplomatically says no but tells her he is hers to command, asking that Christ reward her. However, she wants a kiss, saying perhaps he is not the gracious Gawain after all, as he has not asked for one. In section 52:
I am your sober servant and you my sovereign queen --
I have become your knight and may Christ reward you."
Thus till mid-morning passed they made conversation;
and always she acted as if she adored him;
while Gawain was guarded though gracious enough.
How could the complete paragon of perfect behaviorSo they kiss, he saying that he doesn't want to offend her (a gallant, chivalrous knight would not do so). [The answers above come from a site that provides information from the following locations within the text - Book III (Lines 1126-1319, sections 46-52).] Another version (rpolibrary...) of section 52 from above reads:
spend so much time speaking with a lady
without craving a kiss in courteous fashion
by a tactful hint or turn of conversation?"
"Very well," said Gawain, "your wishes will guide me,
I shall kiss when called upon, as becomes a knight
who would not upset you.
Then said Gawain, 'Let it be as thou dost wish. I will kiss if thou dost command, as befits a knight who fears to displease thee, so let there be an end to thy pleading.' With that she came near to him and caught him in her arms and bent down gracefully and kissed the knight, and they commended each other to Christ.In section/stanza 59 (same, new site), Lady Bertilak tells Gawain on the second morning, that he could force her kiss him, but he says that would not be gallant: she need only ask. But still, this is all he does:
By my faith,' quoth that fair one, 'thou shalt not be denied, for thou art strong enough to constrain one if thou likest, if any were so vilIanous as to refuse thee.' 'Yea, surely,' quoth Gawain, 'good is thy speech, but to threaten a lady is deemed ungallant in the land where I live, as also are all gifts given without good will. I am at your service to kiss when thou likest. Thou mayest take it or leave it when it pleaseth thee,
in space The lady bendeth low, And comely kisses his face, Much love-talk doth flow Of love's joy and grace.]The lady approaches him a third time, pushing him to make love to her. (71)
He cared much for his courtesy, lest he should prove himself craven-hearted, and yet much more for the mischief that would follow were he to commit sin and betray the lord who was his host in that castle. 'God shield us,' said he, 'this shall not befall us,' and with spare love, laughing, he received all the words of choice that fell from her lips.He does not want to be discourteous, but refuses. She wonders if he has a mistress; he says no. She asks for a kiss: (72)
Kiss me now comely, and I will hie me hence. I can only mourn in the world as lovers do.'This is all he will do, remaining chaste.
We’ve answered 319,865 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question