Friday, April 20, 2012

Did Chivalry Work?

That's the premise of my next paper. We're confined to Tolkien's translation of Gawain and the Green Knight, but it's full of usable examples and, I think, cheeky commentary on the chivalric code. I've decided to argue (we can argue for or against the efficaciousness of chivalry) that chivalry did not work. Here are my reasons, which I'm explaining in the hopes that it'll make my paper flow continuously. I will of course be phrasing everything somewhat differently.

#1 They thought chopping off a man's head at Christmastime all in good fun. Death, anyone?

#2 Even those who purportedly followed the chivalric path didn't recognize a chivalric act when it hit them in the face.

#3 Gawain slept-maybe (he at least spent a lot of time kissing her)-with the wife of the lord of the castle who so kindly took him in and gave him the best of care.

#4 Gawain was deceitful and didn't tell the lord that the lady had given him a belt.

#5 This is the most important point: Chivalry didn't prevent violence. I don't really think that was the purpose of chivalry but it is the question we are supposed to answer. The whole episode occurs because of violence.

This weekend I'll be fleshing this out and adding quotations. I have a better shot, I think, of getting an A on this paper than the last one I had to write for this course: Who would win in a pitched battle-Caesar Augustus or Alexander? (Who cares? But I couldn't use that line of course. And in case you were curious I got a B:(

Happy Weekend everybody.


scotth said...

I think you need to define what conditions need to be met for chivalry to be classified as working. Maybe chivalry still works if people are killed and adultry is committed, so long as people are riding horses.

Once you define some conditions that determine if chivalry works, you can argue about how those conditions are not met.

Beowulfa said...

Very true. The professor gave examples of what chivalry was imagined to be in the literature of the time and I was thinking of starting with those. Since my following points will most likely change in order to show how "Sir Gawain" is an example of chivalry not working I probably should've started with those:)