In the narrative poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, women and animals appear, on the surface, to function in a quintessential medieval sense — as physical objects to bolster Sir Gawain’s chivalric image. However, the dynamics between women, animals, and Gawain in this text challenge the human hierarchy presented by other medieval standards. By reading the ritualized hunts as devolving in honorable attention to the animal body and mapping their language onto the Lady’s temptations in Gawain’s bedroom, a feminine reclamation of the body appears. Though Gawain undercuts the Lady and Morgan by reducing them to physical presences, the women conversely use the girdle trick to trap Gawain into selfish regard for his own body and permanently mar his image. By emulating the hunt and butchering of the animals, instead of their associated virtues, the women not only heighten the narrative’s sense of physicality but dissociate the female and the animal with the virtuous knight. Instead of firmly placing the chivalrous identity above the body, this text depicts, in tension, marginalization and power derived from both female and animal bodily forms — a human-animal hierarchy in flux.



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