Nether in bowre ne in halle
Links to Fileshttp://blogs.goucher.edu/verge/4-2/
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work7 p.
RightsCollection may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. To obtain information or permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Goucher Special Collections & Archives at 410-337-6347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SubjectsResearch -- Periodicals.
Humanities -- Research -- Periodicals.
Social sciences -- Research -- Periodicals.
“The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle” is a variation of the “loathly lady” tale-type, which was explored by many medieval English authors, including John Gower (“The Tale of Florent”) and Geoffrey Chaucer. I first met with the tale-type through the lens of Chaucer’s unique creation, the Wife of Bath, whose Prologue nearly overshadows her Tale about an unnamed rapist knight who is sentenced to death if he cannot answer the question, “What do women want most in the world?” When a magical old hag offers him the answer in return for a request to be named later, the knight accepts, but later balks at her demand that he fulfill his end of the bargain by marrying her. The court of women who tried his case makes him honor his agreement, and on their wedding night, his repulsive new bride offers him a choice: she can be old and faithful or she can be young and beautiful, but without a guarantee of fidelity. The Wife of Bath uses the ending of her version to reinforce the central message of her lengthy Prologue: women want power over men, and life is better when they have it. A year later, I had to give a class presentation on a different, anonymous version of the tale in English 240, Medieval Literature. Much of that presentation centered on the differences between the two versions. “Wedding” includes a frame story which actively involves King Arthur in the tale, and presents his knight, this time identified as Sir Gawain, with a far different choice. In this version, Gawain must decide if he would prefer his wife to be young and beautiful during the day, when his friends and fellow knights will see her, or at night, when they are alone. The inclusion of the frame story, and the way in which Ragnelle presents Gawain’s choice to him intrigued me. They seemed to indicate larger social and political concerns than the “Wife of Bath’s Tale.” As I looked at the places where the two versions diverged, I noticed a pattern which stressed the social importance of oaths in both public and private behavior. I decided to concentrate on the particular anxieties surrounding oaths and noble behavior in this text. “The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle” uses the loathly lady motif as an examination of the ideal standard of nobility, which suggests that the culture of the time had reason to worry about the behavior of its ruling classes.