Homoeroticism In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Throughout Arthurian literature, the concepts of courtly love, brotherly love, and chivalry are all explored. While all of these ideas depend on the existence of a heterosexual society, there is evidence of the supposed threat of homoeroticism in the arthurian canon. Le Morte d’Arthur emphasizes the importance of homosocialism in society. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the function of the character of the Green Knight is to represent a challenge to the homosocial status of the round table. In addition, the difference between the natures of Gawain’s kisses between himself and Lady Bertilak, and himself and Lord Bertilak is made to establish heterosexuality as the predominant sexual ideology in the story. An important part of Arthurian…show more content…
The ability of the heterosexual pillar of arthurian society to withstand the attack wrought upon it by homoeroticism by Le Fay’s plot can be seen by the different descriptions of Gawain’s kisses. When Lady Bertilak tries to kiss Gawain each day, she tries to get him to succumb to her seduction. So, while there are but a few lines to describe the kisses themselves, they are seen as having a somewhat sexual nature, driven by Lady Bertilak’s lust. However, when Gawain goes to fulfill his promise and return all that he has been given to Lord Bertilak in exchange for all that Lord Bertilak had hunted in any given day, the nature of his kisses is unimportant. Even when the kiss is stated as being “sauerly and sadly,” there is no sexual aspect to the kiss, but it rather exists as a part of the transaction between two males. His interaction is categorized by his unwillingness to elaborate on the source/nature of his kisses, and his need to stick to the terms and conditions of the agreement. Even though the threat of homoeroticism to the heteronormative society is present in the story, homosexuality never comes close to overtaking heterosexuality in Gawain’s

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