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Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady Essay

In the short story, “Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady,” by Selina Hastings, the characters are portrayed in a stereotypical manner. First, according to the Arthurian legends, a King fights life-threatening obstacles to defend his crown and his life but the task given in the story is unexpected and surreal. As King Arthur confronts the Black Knight, he is challenged, “(i) shall give you one chance to save both your kingdom and your life. Listen carefully. You must come back here in three days’ time, on New Year’s Day, with the answer to this question: what is it that women most desire?” (Hastings 177). Kings are stereotyped to be put into any situation and find their way out. Second, this story exaggerates the appearance of the Loathly Lady, setting fixed opinions based on her looks.

The King thinks to himself, “(s)he was the ugliest living thing he had ever set eyes on, a freak, a monster, a truly loathly lady. Her nose was a pig’s snout; from a misshapen mouth stuck out two yellowing rows of horse’s teeth;” (Hastings 178). King Arthur ignores how women should be portrayed and sets different standards of how women are actually portrayed. By marrying a knight, the society sets high expectations on the beauty of a bride. Third, the story stereotypes what women most desire but neglects the fact that everyone wants the same thing.

When Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady were in the room together, the Loathly Lady said, “(y)ou have given me what every woman wants—her own way” (Hastings 181). In real life, women can do everything that men can do, and yet, all the decisions need to be made by women according to this story. In conclusion, “Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady” has three main stereotypes; all kings are strong and able to cope with the challenge, women are the only ones that want their own way and that all knights are expected to marry beautiful women.

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