Lord Or Lover? Essay, Research Paper
The nobility of Sir Gawain from ” Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ” and Sir Lancelot from “Morte Darthur” diminishes once their treasonous behavior contradicts their chivalric oath to their lord due to conflicts between the ethics of courtly love and thethics of their knightly code. These two characters are placed in certain events that conflict the more important allegiance to their lord with the values of courtly love causing them to make decisions that aren’t necessarily the honorable thing to do. r Gawain and Sir Lancelot let their feelings of love interfere with the loyalty they have to their respective lords thus causing their place in the court to be damaged. In order to follow or understand this claim, one must be aware of the rules involved with courtly love and the rules included in an oath to a lord. Courtly values are the values necessary for being a knight of the Round Table. Honor, Loyalty, Liberalit Pride, Good Faith, Bravery, Glory, Courtesy, and Unselfishness are the virtues are at the center of being a knight. There are also two codes of chivalry within these virtues. One is the knightly code of chivalry and the other one is of chivalrous love.hese two codes can come in to conflict very easily when compared side by side. For example the knightly code of chivalry says, “Thou shalt never lie and remain faithful to thy pledged word” and the code of chivalrous love says, “Being obedient in all thgs to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love” (WWW). The pledged word of knight says they he shall never do shame, disgrace, or be untrue to his lord. In a court such as King Arthur’s a vow is something youeep no matter what. It is the duty of a knight to be loyal in all aspects of the word because loyalty is at the heart of this truth. Acting true to one’s lord is nobler than acting romantic considering the patriarchal society that existed in medieval tis. Fidelity to your king comes first and foremost. Another part of the chivalrous love code that contradicts the knightly code is the fact that the lover “shalt not be a revealer of love affairs”. Once again there is the problem that by not being able to reveal your love affair, a knight is forced to l to his lord and break his pledged word. This is true if you’re mixed up with a lord’s wife, which Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot are both guilty of. According to Cappellanus’s “Art of Courtly Love”, “Love can deny nothing to love”. When in love your spiribecomes possessed by it and this feeling refuses to let go causing the lover to follow his instincts of love rather than his oath to a lord. When these two sets of values are forced to integrate, contradictions arise concerning the concept of courtly love and courtly honor causing the downfall of the lover. Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain can also exemplify these conflicts by examining their siations in the texts of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “Morte Darthur”. Truth is the one value at issue in both cases. Each knight can not be truthful to their lords because of the temptations of courtly love and courtesy necessary for love to ta place. How does one choose between different codes of honor? On one hand your physical sensations are satisfied while on the other you gain the respect from your lord to become a highly respected warrior and honorable knight. When trying to achieve bot
you end up losing both. During Sir Lancelot’s affair with Queen Guinevere the other knights of the Round Table discover his treason and are determined to not let King Arthur be shamed by Lancelot’s dishonor. Agravain speaks for many knights when he says, ” And all we know tt it is so, and it is shamefully suffered of us all that we know should suffer so noble a king as King Arthur is to be shamed”(Darthur 346). Because Lancelot’s grief is a “thousand” fold greater for her than for himself, he has realized the trouble he h caused. He chooses to fight for his love instead of pleading for forgiveness. The almighty value of truth was disregarded and not only removed Lancelot from his nobility but caused the downfall of an entire medieval way of life. Once the ” pillers and bbers were come into the field to pill and rob many a full noble knight” it is clear the devastation that Sir Lancelot has caused. The whole system of knights and chivalry has been eradicated in one short battle all because of one man letting his love f a woman interfere with the love for his lord. In actuality Lancelot was only following the ethics of courtly love because “A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved” (Capellanus). In a way, when a man falls in love, he is under the control of the woman and is physically unable to disobey or deny the woman of anything. Love is like a highly addictive drug. Being a good lover as most knights were is like being a drug addict. They e unable to resist the desires of the beloved. It is for this reason the Sir Gawain in his role in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ is unable to resist Bercilak’s wife’s offer of the girdle. One of the characteristics of courtly love is courteousness. is being courteous to the seductress, but at the same time he must lie to the lord in order to save his own life. Gawain “bore with her words and withstood them no more,/ And she repeated her petition and pleaded anew,/ And he granted it, and gladly shgave him the belt,/ An besought him for her sake to conceal it well,/ Lest the noble lord should know-and, the knight agrees/ That not a soul save themselves shall see it thenceforth”(Green Knight 240). By following the rules of courtly love, he is oblid to succumb to her wishes as a sign of courtesy. Once he agrees not to tell anyone of his gift he directly creates a conflict between two sets of values. The girdle becomes a symbol of disgrace when the author says, ” With rage in heart he speaks,/ Andrieves with many a groan;/ The blood burns in his cheeks/ For shame at what must be shown” Gawain acknowledge this when he addresses the court and says, “This is the badge of false faith that I was found in there,/ And I must bear it on my body till I eathe my last” (Gawain 253). Unlike Lancelot his misdeed is forgiven because he was acting out of human nature, but it still represents a conflict caused by the attempt to obey both sets of ethics. Human nature can not be controlled just like love can n be tamed. When there are so many forces pushing in the same direction, one of them is bound to collide with the other causing a disastrous contradiction. I suppose if the beloved were not the lord’s wife, these two sets of rules could run smoothly parlel to one another without a collision. Although without these contradictions the hero wouldn’t be flawed and the story would have a shallow meaning.