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In the late fourteenth century The concept of Chivalry was in decline due to drastic social and economical changes Because of this Sir Gawain and the Green Knight presents both a nostalgic support of the feudal hierarchies and an implicit criticism of changes It is simple to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a romantic celebration of chivalry Ruth Hamilton 1 believes that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains a more wide-ranging more serious criticism of chivalry than has hereto been noticed To be more specific she feels the poet is showing Gawains reliance on chivalrys outer form and substance at the expense of the original values of the Christian religion from which it sprang Hamilton also said the first order of Knights were monastic ones who took vows of poverty obedience and Chastity The first duties thee Knights undertook the Crusades were for the church The Great divergence in the two came with the rise of courtly love in which the Knights were led to great feats of bravery and uplift by devotion to a mistress rather than God Seeing the Churchs mistrust of women and the flesh the contradiction seems clear Hamilton tells us there was a mass of clerical writings in the Fourteenth Century that was critical of chivalry and shows the split between chivalry and the Church at that time Given this mistrust of women by the Church having women in this story is a critical medium for delivering this message Interestingly the women seem to hold great power Bertaliks wife is operating against Gawain in the bedroom as the hunter and the aggressor However the poet never intends to present a world where women are powerful These women constitute a metaphor for other anti-social forces and dangers outside the control of feudalism and chivalry which a medieval world genders female because of a set of biblical and classical models which establish anything
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