Essay The Romance Of Exchange, By Stephanie Trigg

796 Words Apr 30th, 2016 4 Pages
Stephanie Trigg in her essay, The Romance of Exchange, writes, “Exchange in this poem is never equal, never reciprocal… the exchanges in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight all realize some profit or loss.” (253) Throughout the poem there is a binary, an continual economy between violence and courtesy. One is always traded for the other, except in the case of Gawain. His exchanges within the poem are always equal and reciprocal. Gawain’s attempts to make things equal in a world which thrives on unequal exchange begins to undermine the very purpose of the poem, leaves the narrative in shambles. This perspective of unraveling the binary between violence and courtesy takes the theoretical perspective of Deconstruction. “Deconstructionists do not believe that systems can be secure or unified or that we can capture cultural objects with single explanations… everything is multiple, unstable, and without unity.” (Parker 88) Jacques Derrida further explains this thought in his essay, Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences. “For there are two heterogeneous ways of erasing the difference between the signifier and the signified: one, the classic way, consists in reducing or deriving the signifier… the other one we are using here against the first one, consists in putting into question the system in which the preceding reduction functioned.” (214) By examining Gawain’s actions in both the bedroom scenes and his attempted beheading, we can begin to unravel the binary…

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