Comparing Lanval and Sir Gawain

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Comparing Lanval and Sir GawainStories of knights and their chivalry from the earlier centuries continue to enlighten us on how modern gentlemen must act. Looking closely at Lanval and Sir Gawain, these two knights are reflections of the positive human state of loyalty and honor.”Lanval” is a popular lais of Marie de France, a French Poet.

It tells the story of a knight who was overlooked by King Arthur. The king distributes presents, wives and lands oto his barons except for him.Because of this, Lanval wanders off to the countryside. He reacehes a stream and meets two beautiful ladies.

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They lead him to their mistress who is a rich and beautiful lady. She becomes Lanval’s lover.The mistress asks Lanval to keep their relationship a secret. If not, he will lose her forever.

Since then, Lanval meets with his mistress whenever he wants. He also linves in her luxury.Queen Guinevere, King Arthur’s wife, tries to seduce Lanval. The knight rejects the queen, making her angry.

She accuses him of being a homosexual. Lanval defends his manly honor by boasting about his beautiful mistress and insults Guinevere by commenting that the servants in Camelot are more beautiful than her.Queen Guinevere is insulted and King Arthur puts Lanval in trial. Lanval asks his mistress to come but she does not.

Lanval is brought to the court and is asked to prove that his boasts of his beautiful mistress are true. Out of the blue, two attendants of the mistress appear. They request that the proper preparations be made for the arrival of Lanval’s mistress.The mistress arrives to the awe of everyone in the room.

They all agree that she is the most beautiful woman they have ever seen. The mistress tells everyone that she is indeed Lanval’s lover and that Queen Guinevere lied about his homosexuality. Lanval is set free. He leaves with his mistress and together, they set for Avalon.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a 14th century romance written by Geoffrey Chaucer which tells the adventures of Sir Gawain. He is a knight of the Round Table and is King Arthur’s nephew.Sir Gawain accepts a challengefrom a mysterious green warrior. The Green Knight lets anyone strike him with an axe under the condition that he will take the return blow after one year and one day.

Sir Gawain accepts the challenge. He beheads the Green Knight with only one blow. To his surprise, the Green Knight stands up, picks up his head and reminds Gawain that they will meet again at the time they agreed on.Sir Gawain proceeds to find the Green Chapel in order to complete his other end of the bargain with the Green Knight.

His expedition takes him to a castle where he meets Bertilak de Hautdesert and his wife.The lord and Sir Gawain had a bargain. The Lord will give Sir Gawain his catch as long as the latter will also return to the former whatever he gains on that day. The lord went off to hunt.

Lady Bertilak enters Sir Gawain’s bedroom and seduces him. Sir Gawain gives her one kiss. The lord returns with the deer. Staying true to the bargain, Sir Gawain returned Lady Bertilak’s kiss to the lord.

He didn’t explain where he got it.The following day, Lady Bertilak tries to seduce Sir Gawain again. Gawain didn’t do anything. When it was time for the exchange, Sir Gawain gave the Lord two kisses in exchange for the boar.

On the third morning, the lady returned to Sir Gawain’s room. He accepts a green silk girdle. According to Lady Bertilak, it will protect Sir Gawain from harm. They also exchanged three kisses.

That evening, the lord gave Sir Gawain a fox in exchange for the three kisses. Sir Gawain did not give the girdle to Lord Bertilak.Sir Gawain leaves the castle and makes his way to the Green Chapel bearing the silk girdle from Lady Bertilak. The Green Knight was there sharpening his axe.

As arranged, Sir Gawain bends over and receives the blow. The Green Knight held back his blow twice. On his third swing, he strikes Sir Gawain’s neck softly which results to a permanent scar on the knight’s neck.The Green Knight reveals himself to be Lord Berilak.

He explains that this was all arranged by Morgane le Fay, a poweful sorceress who is King Arthur’s half-sister. She does whatever she can to stir trouble for her half-brother and his followers.The two men part in good terms. Sir Gawain returns to Camelot wearing the green girdle as a sign of shame.

However, King Arthur orders all his knights to wear a green sash to recognize Sir Gawain’s adventures.Looking closely at Lanval, the reader sees how loyal he is. He promises he will not reveal his relationship with the mistress. He manages to do this until Queen Guinevere seduces him.

Lanval’s loyalty was tested at that moment. He does not do anything, to the queen’s disappointment. This only proves that he is loyal to his mistress. The only time Lanval broke his promise was when Queen Guinevere insulted his masculinity and accused him of being a homosexual.

Sir Gawain, like Lanval, is also loyal. He takes on the challenge for his king. He also honors the pact of meeting up with the Green Knight after a year and one day. In the text, he fights with the beasts just to keep his promise.

He also honors his end of the bargain with the Lord Bertilak by giving him kisses.There is an instant though that questions his absolute loyalty. This is when he keeps the girdle given to him by Lady Bertilak. The explanation to his action is that he chose to protect himself over his loyalty to his word.

The same can be said to Lanval. He broke his promise to his mistress. He reveals her because his masculinity was being questioned. At that instant, he chose his reputation over his loyalty to his word.

Another similarity is that adage that “Good things happen to good people.” To elaborate it further, Sir Gawain seems to be in a streak of luck. Before he heads out to the Green Chapel and battle the Green Knight, Lady Bertilak seduces him and gives him a green girdle. As he is about to face his “end” (or so he thought), he stumbles upon the truth that this adventure was a mere game staged by Morgane Le Fay.

The moral of the story is that he proves to his king and his countrymen his loyalty. As a Knight of the Round Table, he values this trait and is ready to do what the king asks him to do. He is also willing to sacrifice his life just to do his end of the bargain.Lanval also has that same quality.

He is loyal to his mistress. He had the opportunity to sleep with Queen Guinevere because she was already throwing herself at him but he didn’t.Which shows that in both stories it is the women who are not loyal. Both Lady Bertilak and Queen Guinevere seduced the knights despite being married to Lord Bertilak and King Arthur respectively.

In these works, the modern stereotype that men cheat are not elaborated here. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around. In both “Lanvin” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, it is the women who cheat.Thus brings us to another similarity in the two texts.

There are temptations involving Sir Gawain and Lady Bertilak as well as with Lanval and Queen Guinevere. Sir Gawain is tested on his fidelity to Lord Bertilak, his host, and to the chivalric truth which he holds ideal.“Lanval” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” are two kinds of storytelling which present the different purpose of the importance of Temptation appearing in the text. This moment in the story can either make or break the hero.

It can verify or destroy his worthiness (Maddox 69).Lanval was brought into trial and was ask to prove that his mistress was real. At the same time, Sir Gawain’s trial came in the form of meeting the Green Knight after a year and one day to receive his blow. Both knights do not know what the outcome will be.

They are going through a test which they both faced head on.Just like any hero in a story, Lanval and Sir Gawain also make mistakes. The two of them made the same mistake – and that is breaking the promises they made. Perhaps good things really do happen to good people because nothing bad happened to either one of them.

Lanval revealed his mistress the minute his sexuality was question. Sir Gawain didn’t give Lord Bertilak the green girdle in order to protect himself. Both Marie de France and Geoffrey Chaucer show that humans are humans. Lanval and Sir Gawain, no matter how loyalty and honorable they are most of the time, still have the tendency to commit mistakes.

Nonetheless, Lanval and Sir Gawain learned from these mistakes but they dealt with the situation in different manners. For one, Lanval asked his mistress to come. At first, the mistress does not heed his call. This makes Lanval worry.

He regrets his revelation.Sir Gawain, on the other hand, felt that the green girdle was something he should have given up to Lord Bertilak to be completely true to his end of the bargain. They may have parted in cordial terms but Sir Gawain was humiliated with the lie he made. He wears the girdle around his arm and feels ashamed.

It is only when King Arthur decrees his knights to wear green sashes did Sir Gawain feel confident again (Burrow 335).On the other hand, after being rescued by his mistress and set free, Lanval leaves Camelot and heads to Avalon. He was never heard from again. The story ends as if it was alright for Lanval to break his code of silence with the mistress.

Lanval’s actions may be explained due to the fact that King Arthur forgot about him when he was distributing property, land and women among his knights. Then he was also insulted by Queen Guinevere. Despite the fact that he is a Knight of the Round Table, Lanval eventually turned his back on his loyalty and honor to his king and country because his loyalty and honor lies someplace now. It now belongs to his mistress.

Meanwhile, Sir Gawain proves to be a loyal knight of King Arthur. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is not the only text in English literature where he is a part of. There are still other stories surrounding his quests and adventures as a knight for his uncle.There are texts on Sir Gawain that show him as someone who battled with his best friend Sir Lancelot.

This was because during the battle that ensued between Sir Lancelot and King Arthur, his brothers were killed. Sir Gawain’s intent was to avenge his brothers.But when his brother Mordred overturned Camelot, Sir Gawain sought forgiveness and assistance from Sir Lancelot to help his kingdom.This only comes to show that even during earlier centuries, Literature reflects the positive and negative state of humans.

Their attitudes and characteristics depend on their personal ideologies of death, love, honor,hope, regret, loyalty, youth, sense of mortality and cynisims. These determine their actions toward other people which basically defines who they are as individuals.   Works CitedMaddox, Donald. Fictions of Identity in Medieval France.

Cambridge UniversityPress, 2000Burrow, J.A. Gestures and Looks in Medieval Narrative. Cambridge UniversityPress, 2002

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