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Notes on Courtly Love and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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What are the conventions of courtly love? Include sources of this tradition, societal aspects and how this love related to marriage. How do the literary pieces that you read this week embody the concepts of Courtly Love? How are women portrayed in these selections? Please cite examples from the text and use references.

Celtic mythology, an epic quest and Christianity, loyalty to one's Lord and the conventions of courtly Love are intertwined within the Arthurian romance and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Please cite examples that support this statement from the text and use references for your ideas.

Layamon's Brut in Norton Anthology of The Middle Ages p. 125,
The Myth of Arthur's Return in Norton Anthology of The Middle Ages p.127.
Thomas of England: Le Roman de Tristan in Norton Anthology of The Middle Ages p. 125
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Norton Anthology of The Middle Ages, p. 160.

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Courtly love is based on an idealized love for a woman from someone other than her husband. It's more literary than realistic - think of romantic comedies, no one actually acts that way, and if they did they'd be in HUGE trouble, but it's still part of the stories we like to hear. In medieval times, marriage for the upper class was based on making alliances more than love; it was a way for the father of the bride and the groom to become stronger allies. Women were often wed to men much older than them, and they did not have very much power in these relationships, though that certainly varied. Courtly love was the idea that younger men who did not have the resources to marry idealized the wives of their kings or lords and had romantic relationships with them where the woman was in a position of power. These relationships could be simple flirtations or sexual affairs. Courtly love became popular during a time when veneration of the Virgin Mary was also popular, and both include men who look up to a woman on a pedestal. You will see that in Sir Gawain pretty explicitly, he has a picture of Mary on the back of his shield to remind him of why he fights and there is a lot of attention drawn to the five pointed star on the front of his shield which has a lot of religious symbolism. Like the cult of the Virgin Mother, which initially challenged church ...

Solution Summary

This solution was to help explain the concept of courtly love and the plot of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.