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King Arthur:

The Wedding of Sir Gawain & Dame Ragnelle


Arthur is hunting a deer in Ingleswood in "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle", when he is found by Sir Gromer Somer Joure. While Arthur has no problem killing the defenseless deer, he persuades Sir Gromer that it would be un-knightly to slay an unarmed man. It is revealed that Arthur has seized Sir Gromer's lands and given them to Sir Gawain, not exactly a noble act itself. Sir Gromer wants to kill Arthur, but Arthur grovels and promises "save my life, and whate thou wolt crave, I shalle now graunt it thee." Gromer sends Arthur on a mission to find out what it is that women love. He makes Arthur promise to keep their meeting and the quest a secret. Arthur immediately breaks his word by telling Sir Gawain. Although our modern notions of chivalry might make us presume that the greatest medieval king would know what it is that women love best, Arthur obviously feels that he does not know. He not only enlists Sir Gawain's help in seeking the answer, he allows Gawain to wed Dame Ragnelle in order to procure that answer and save his own life. Arthur is shown to be utterly human in this tale. He begs for his life, goes back on his word, and once again allows his nephew Gawain to carry his burden.  Next






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