The Influence of the Supernatural on Courtly Conduct, Christianity, and Chivalry in Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

2423 Words Mar 26th, 2011 10 Pages
Christian Williams
Student ID# 995895456
Professor Watson
ENGC30
December 1, 2010

The Influence of the Supernatural on Courtly Conduct, Christianity, and Chivalry in Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

In the world of medieval literature the supernatural is a consistent theme, presented in extraordinary encounters, mysterious experiences and with magical objects such as potions, spells, and the prominent image of the green girdle of Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert’s wife in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Magic and the supernatural is seen as the driving force behind several narratives and acts as a method by which we might judge human achievement against that of a species that appears to be greater than us, akin to
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In his paper, Marie de France: Psychologist of Courtly Love, S. Foster Damon further extrapolates on Lanval’s dealings with the fey world in the following quote, “So Lanval […] is the man with the idea so intense that for long it dims reality” (Damon 986). From this statement, one can gather that in this narrative the supernatural is a metaphor for the ideal medieval court, something that surpasses all mortal expectations and is only called into reality by the excellence of Lanval’s character and injustice met against him. The fey court treats Lanval with absolute consideration and benevolence unlike the treatment he receives from that of Arthur and the knights, highlighting the disparity between the mortal and fey worlds. In this regard, the supernatural is seen to amend injustices against medieval ideals even at the highest level of human achievement and it serves as a reminder that in spite of the great degree of mortal ideals that they are still fallible. The supernatural is employed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to demonstrate a similar relationship between the narrative and medieval ideologies as it is uses magic to draw comparisons to Christianity and convey a unified message of spirituality through its discourse. In the poem the first immediately recognizable supernatural entity that is encountered by Gawain

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