Last week I shared the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Today I’ll share the tale of The Wedding of Sir Gawain. I fear that fans of last week’s tale will be disappointed to find that today’s tale doesn’t include a three way between Sir Gawain, a dude, and the dude’s wife. However, once they get past their homoerotic disappointment I am confident they will still find much to love in today’s tale.
In The Wedding of Sir Gawain, King Arthur must find out what women most desire in order to save his life. Arthur meets an ugly woman (Ragnelle) who promises to tell Arthur the answer if Sir Gawain agrees to marry her in return. Sir Gawain agrees, and the ugly woman tells Arthur the answer to the riddle:
King Arthur tells her that Sir Gawain accepts her terms and she reveals to him that what women desire most is sovereynté, the ability to make their own decisions.
With Arthur’s life saved, the only thing remaining is for Sir Gawain to put this new found wisdom into practice. Gawain marries Ragnelle and gives her sovereignty. As a result, he is blessed with a beautiful wife!
…the new pair retire to the bedroom. After brief hesitation, Gawain assents to treat his new bride as he would if she were desirable, and go to bed with her as a dutiful husband is expected to do. When he looks up, he is astonished to see the most beautiful woman he has ever seen standing before him. She explains she had been under a spell to look like a hag until a good knight married her; now her looks will be restored half the day. She gives him the choice to have her beautiful at night, when they are together, or during the day, when they are with others. Instead, he gives her the sovereynté to make the choice herself. This answer lifts the curse for good, and Ragnelle’s beauty returns permanently.