Gawain and the Hunt

Like others that may have already mentioned, I too have had multiple courtships with SGGK. During this read, I could not shake the idea of the hunt, which may have come from previous analyzing. The hunt was just as outlined with customs and courtesies as other aspects of the court, which like any of these other aspects were usually reserved for the wealthy. J.D. Burnley’s “Hunting Scenes in ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'” does a good job of bringing to light several versions of the hunt at play in SGGK. We see literal hunts concerning deer, fox, boar etc. Even a literal hunt of the Green Knight, undertaken by Sir Gawain. Then there are more subtle hunts that Burnley touches on.

There’s a lot of interesting things at work¬†concerning the parallels between the episodes of Bertilak leaving to hunt while Gawain stays behind and Lady Bertilak’s “hunt for Gawain’s moral flaws.” Burnley mentions the discourse concerning the relation of the hunt for a fox with Lady Bertilak’s hunt dealing with Gawain’s cleverness. Gawain can therefore, be compared to the fox, which at this point is interesting because there are so many hunts occurring at the same time in so many different directions, some of it subtle, but nonetheless contributes to the pace of the tale. Gawain hunting for the Green Knight who turns out to be Bertilak, Bertilak hunting literally and also for Gawain’s moral fiber by testing him multiple ways, Lady Bertilak’s testing through seduction and the girdle.

With so many instances of the hunt going on and how these tales have lasted the time they have, can say something about the idea of the hunt. Why is a hunt such an engaging topic? And not even in the literal sense. In Arthurian literature, the hunt can even apply to the hunt for love, the chase, (something that is still very present today). Is there a subconscious instinct? A primal hard wiring of the brain? If so, should the hunt for modern objects, ideas, desires have a set of customs and courtesies as they did during the times of chivalry, the court, and courtly customs and courtesies? Would it help or hinder?

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