Leaving Morgan Aside (2015)Resumen Español
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Leaving Morgan Aside: Women, History
Revisionism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Female characters as Guenevere are marginalised or silenced in Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight. As a tradition of the Arthurian ideology, women were displaced from
their central place in order to provide a ‘proleptic cure’ and its eventual downfall. The
purpose of this revisionary agenda is nothing less than to demonstrate how the Round
Table might have averted its own destruction by adhering to the expectations of
masculine behavior inherent in Christian chivalry.
Morgan le Fay and her marginalization are the means to the poem’s end, because women are centrally implicated in the collapse of the Round Table and the end of the Arthurian Age. If women could be placed on the periphery, as Morgan is in this poem, then the Round Table might not have fallen. The romance attempts to deny the female would have saved the kingdom.
Guenevere and her betrayals of her king are, of course, notorious in the dissolution of the Round Table; she is most famous, in other words, for her association with the end.
Guenevere is most prominent at the beginning, however, there are three other references to her: when sitting near Gawain at the New Year’s feast; Arthur bids her not to be bothered by the Green Knight’s talking head; later when learning she’s not so beautiful as the Lady. In fact, it’s significant when Guenevere is mentioned at the end of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a desire for her death as well as her own capacity for destruction are projected on to the single figure of Morgan le Fay. Guevenere and Morgan may be marginalized in very different ways at the beginning and end of the poem, but there is always, of course, the Lady’s placement squarely at the poem’s center is significant for many reasons. Although Guenevere is always in a simply conventional aesthetic observation, she is not.
The Lady is the common denominator between these two female characters, what she denominates is, in essence, femaleness itself. They both need to be marginalised to be succeed in its Christian chilvalric revision of Arthurian history, the centrality of the Lady works to underline the poem’s purpose. The Lady is ‘framed’ within the poem.
Moreover, the Lady who is always situated within and associated with enclosed and private spaces. In fact, she is so marginalized that a poem that names everything, including Gawain’s horse Gringolet, never names her. She has no ostensible existence outside the castle walls unless a man chooses to name her. The Lady is associated with privateness because that is the realm she inhabits. And this privateness is linked to female sexuality. The privateness to which is associated itself becomes feminized in the romance.
Women is associated with a private desire that Gawain must to overcome to preserve his continuation in Arthurian world when entering Morgan’s castle. Howeverm he eventually gave in the temptation of the girdle due to his desire to save his life, once he has learned of the magical properties inherent in the girdle. To yield to this natural and instinctive desire is particulary dangerous because it’d be only the beginning.
Politically, it would spell the end of Arthur’s kingdom by being ‘cowards’. To assume the girdle means to think primarily of himself as his private desire and not in the kingdom’s reputation.
The girdle initially signifies life, and specifically Gawain’s desire to save his own.
Because this private desire is linked in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the privateness that is the Lady, Gawain’s action implicity betrays the masculine codes of Christian chivalry affirmed as the central values of this poem. In fact, its acceptance means to betray his nature as Arthur’s blood which implies his masculinity. Masculinity and knighthood become synonymous with courtliness. However, an axiom received meant that he should never forget and that will restore his knighthood and his masculinity. The poem tries to suggest that the life-giving girdle and its giver are ultimately lifethreating.
Morgan is always associated with dead and she’s not admitted until the end because of this. Corruption of women is presented in the Round Table showing an anti-feminism poem. The women must be marginalised by leaving Morgan aside. In this marginalization of women, then, the poem provides a proleptic cure for Arthurian history. If Guenevere had been the static and silent queen, then the Round Table would not have fallen. If men could redefine and thereby control experience for other men, as Bertilak does for Gawain, and indeed, as the poet does for his audience, then Morgan’s power would be diffused.