Most people know King Arthur, to think they do. Like a lot of works of literature, much has been changed by the course of time and Hollywood. In the oldest of the tales, Sir Gawain is the best knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, not Lancelot. In fact, Lancelot is added relatively late in the mythology by French author Chretien de Troyes.
Gawain is badass before Lancelot is even thought of.
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, (author unknown) Gawain comes into his own. Far from being a dry literary text, it’s a story of bravery and temptation. It’s been translated from a variant of Middle English into Modern English by many scholars, including the inimitable J. R. R. Tolkein.
The center of the tale revolves around the unnamed Host’s Wife (Can you believe she isn’t even considered important enough to name?). She is tasked by her husband to seduce Gawain, or at least attempt to.
I’ve taught the tale many times, and I’ve always wondered about her. Why would she agree to do this? What is her marriage like? Is she even attracted to Gawain, or is it all a ruse? Who was this woman?
This is my answer to those questions.
Ava is not your typical female of the Middle Ages. I like to think she represents those women who wanted to be more than the constraints of society permitted at the time. This view of what could be also allowed me to look usual beyond the facile portrayal of Gawain as well, leading to a very human relationship between the two characters.
Purchase your copy of Gawain here.