Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Submitted By kimhannah523
Words: 2235
Pages: 9

Women were always viewed as weak, dependent, and powerless in the Middle Ages. Not only is it a common view during that time period, but this also is often stereotyped labeled to women today as well. In the romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the hatred of women is portrayed throughout. However, while women are certainly looked down upon, they also are influential to the knights. This romance also portrays how a woman having different characteristics, could change the way she was viewed as well. Although women in the Middle Ages appeared to lack power, the women in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have a hidden influence over the men and actually drive the action of the medieval romance. Misogyny is a very important idea in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The word misogyny literally translates to the hatred of women. In this medieval romance, Gawain references biblical characters who have been deceived by women, and shows his feelings of how women are evil. For example, the story of Rebekah shows the inferior social position and lack of political power in a society where men ruled. In the Bible, Rebekah was married to Isaac who was the son of Abraham. They had two sons named Jacob and Esau. They were born together, but were completely different from each other. Esau was a skillful hunter, and was always out in the fields, but Jacob was peaceful and stayed indoors in the tents. Isaac favored Esua more but on the other hand, Rebekah favored Jacob more. Then one day, Rebekah was eavesdropping outside the tent, and heard Isaac telling Esau to hunt and make him a stew so that he could gain strength to bless him before he died. At that time, Isaac was fairly ill and was blind so he did not know when he was going to pass away. At that time, Rebekah could have used prayer for divine wisdom to solve this problem, but instead decided to go with treachery and deceit. And so, Rebekah’s plan was to help Jacob impersonate Esua so that blind Isaac would be fooled into blessing him instead of his brother. "Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you . Go to the flock and fetch me two good kids, that I may prepare front them savory food for your father, such as he loves ; and you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies" (Gen 27 :8-10). However, Jacob did not agree at first because Esau was a hairy man, while he himself was smooth. Then, he put on goat skin and pulled off Rebekah’s plan. Jacob was blessed in place of Esau, and later Isaac found out that he was victimized by his son and wife. By that time, he was not able to reverse his blessing. Esau furiously decided to kill his brother, and Rebekah came up with another devious plan and told Jacob to run away to her brother Laban.
This position remained unchanged from Biblical times through the medieval period. Gawain in the romance says, “I thank God I am not a woman!” (Line 653). Gawain is thankful that he is not a woman because of the patriarchal society during the Middle Ages. During this time, men were the only ones who were able to take parts in social events, hold formal power and representation, get paid more, and represented as superior. Women were often paid low wages, hold no power, did all the house work, took care of the children, were abused often, and were often represented negatively in public. Women during these ages were also often referred to as workers. This illustrates the status of women during this time period. It plays a role in every aspect of their lives. They were often labeled as “Working woman,” because they often held positions of wife, mother, peasant, nun, and also as artisans but they are never given important leadership roles. Men believed that women should only be used for reproduction and were only used for that reason.
Women were also considered inferior to men. Even in marriages, men had full control of the women. Under the law, women received very little protection. Men would always abuse their