Lady Bertilak Women

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Women in the Old English and Medieval Periods were typically only given small roles in society. But it is not the roles themselves, but rather what the individual women did with those roles which made them more important than the others. Women during these time periods did not hold significant roles in society compared to those held by men. However, many of them were very important to each of their communities because of what they did with the roles that they were given. Women in the Medieval period, Lady Bertilak for example, had a better chance of obtaining more powerful roles in their communities than did women in the Old English period, such as the narrator of “The Wife’s Lament.” This was because they were treated differently by the community.…show more content…
The poet uses Lady Bertilak as a metaphor for the dangers that a loyal knight faced: women were not to be trusted (Arkin). They were viewed as capable of leading a worthy knight to betray the Code of Chivalry. Lady Bertilak is portrayed as a stereotypical biblical temptress, one who uses the dangers of the flesh to lead man astray. She is portrayed in this way so that the readers of that time would be forewarned. The archetypal temptress is Eve, who convinced Adam to taste the forbidden fruit although he already knew the consequences. While the type of temptress portrayed by Lady Bertilak is found primarily in major Medieval archetypes, she also displays strong characteristics of the romantic archetype of “courtly love” (Arkin). Although Lady Bertilak portrays archetypes, they are very conflicting as is seen in the text. The bedroom is where the major conflict for Gawain is shown. On one side of the conflict is courtly love portrayed by Lady Bertilak. On the other side, spiritual love portrayed by the Virgin Mary (Arkin). And had Gawain drawn on the strength of spiritual love, he might have withstood the temptations of courtly love. “The fortitude he found in the five joys which Mary had conceived in her son…. So the star on the spangling shield he sported shone royally, in gold, on a ruby background…,” we are told by the narrator (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 644-663). The role that Lady Bertilak plays is important and powerful, yet it is still one that serves the objectives of her
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