During Mary Leech's Why Dame Ragnell Had to Die she talks about how Dame Ragnell usurps Gawain's authority over her and the importance in the death of Ragnell. Dame Ragnell enters the piece as a hideous creature of both looks and manners, and is notable in that she is the only loathly lady to receive a name. Gawain in this tale is the perfect knight as he acts appropriately in every sense of the manner and for lack of a better term consistently does the right thing. The most important point of interest in this is that when Gawain chooses to make the just actions and the loathly lady is transformed into a beautiful woman she still holds the power in their relationship and in a way holds Gawain hostage. Gawain would rather stay with his beautiful wife than go questing in the name of his king essentially showing him as more of a house cat than a knight. This is uncharacteristic of Gawain as he is often portrayed as quite the knight doing all the knightly deeds including the wooing of maidens and since he is in a position where he will not go on adventures he cannot uphold his sense of honor and chivalry as a knight of the round table. Gawain being taken hostage by his affection for his wife is why she must die in order to restore the balance of power between man and woman. As the piece says this is a fine example of the flaws portrayed in the masculine culture of the time(228).
top of page
bottom of page