Hunting, Seduction: ‘Sir Gawain And The Green Knight’

There are three descriptive hunting scenes that happen before each of the three seductions by Lady Bertilak. Lady Bertilak is sent by her husband, who is the Green Knight, to test the chivalry of Sir Gawain.

There is a correlation between the hunting scenes and the seduction scenes. The first animal hunted was the deer. The author gives a very descriptive image of how the hunters take apart the deer. Lady Bertilak sneaks into Sir Gawain’s room and he acts asleep. She comes over to his bed and he has no clue on what is happening when he gets up. Gawain asks her to leave so he can put clothes on and she refuses to leave without taking a kiss. He gives her one and she leaves. The host gives Sir Gawain some deer and Sir Gawain gives him a kiss that he got from the Lady. The next day a wild boar is hunted. Lady Bertilak is back in his room and gets two kisses out of him because according to her, it would not be chivalrous if he did not kiss her. Sir Gawain then receives some of the boar from the host in exchange for two kisses. The third day a fox is hunted. Lady Bertilak gets three kisses out of him this time. She asks for a gift of love but he refuses to give her anything. She ends up giving him her green girdle that will protect him. The hunting and the seducing is all connected because just as the hunter catches his prey, the Lady is trying to catch her prey which would be Sir Gawain.

This is a very weird situation for Sir Gawain. The Lady is seducing him while he is trying to sleep. She is the wife of the Green Knight which puts her in a high position. She is aware that she is in a higher position than Sir Gawain so she tries to use that to her advantage. She knows he needs to be chivalrous and courteous towards her since he is a knight. For Sir Gawain to remain chivalrous and courteous, he needs to do whatever she says. This is a hard test for Sir Gawain, because he needs to remain courteous since he is a knight, but also he needs to remember his purity. He should not be falling for the seduction and listening to her. He most likely should not have been kissing Lady Bertilak because that made her seduction come on stronger to Sir Gawain.

His behavior with the Lady was mainly proper. He kept trying to be chivalrous with her while also trying to remain faithful. One of the lines I could see being crossed was him kissing her for a total of six times. However, if he did not kiss the Lady to be “chivalrous” as a knightly duty, then maybe the Lady would have been pushing harder. Another line I could see being crossed was him receiving a girdle from the Lady. This was her own girdle for her to wear and that seems like a pretty personal garment for a woman to wear. For him to take the girdle from her seems kind of odd and maybe he should not have done that.

The whole point of having Lady Bertilak come into Sir Gawain’s room for three nights in a row was to test his expected knight behavior which was being chivalrous and courteous to women especially. The hunting and seduction scenes correlated to each other by trying to catch the “prey.” Sir Gawain tried to remain proper, however he probably should have not kissed the Lady or taken her girdle.