The Wedding Of Sir Gawain And Ragnene Analysis

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The saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman,” and, in some medieval romances, that great woman is scheming for her own benefit (and either for or contrary to that of the man’s). Feminine honor is tied to being a good wife, which means being sexually faithful to and obeying. In Bisclavret by Marie de France, Bisclavret’s wife betrays him both by taking away his humanity and by taking a lover, and for that, she is disfigured as her punishment. The inverse occurs in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle: Ragnelle, disfigured by her stepmother, manipulates both Arthur and Gawain to secure her marriage with Gawain, and she is rewarded with beauty. These women are ultimately judged not by their manipulative actions but how they perform as wives through those actions.
Although Bisclavret’s wife schemes to steal Bisclavret’s humanity, her worst offense is that she has failed to fulfill her wifely duties and uses her position as Bisclavret’s wife to manipulate him. Bisclavret, after telling her of his condition, is hesitant to disclose where he hides his clothes because, if he loses them, he cannot transform back into a human, and his wife responds:
I love you more than all the world; you mustn’t hide anything from me or fear me in any way: that doesn’t seem like love to me.
What wrong have I done? For what sin of mine do you mistrust me about anything?
Do the right thing and tell me! (lines 80-86)
Bisclavret’s wife points out that if there is anyone in the

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