Courtly Love

A comparative essay on Andreas Capellanus’ 12th Century Treatise on Love and the 14th Century Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This paper discusses the assertion that ‘Courtly Love’ is an idealized and hardly realized fantasy play of a misguided and inaccurate morality, quite opposed to the deep idealism of Sir Gawain. Throughout this essay, it is demonstrated that Capellanus’ Treatise and Gawain’s unfaltering nature are conflicts of human behavior and human ideals, the concept of the perfect for which to aim in ones own life, and rarely achieve.
Courtly love is, in general form, a structured form of male / female interaction which was infused with a poetic, heroic, romantic idealism about the virtue of both the man and the woman. The core idea of Courtly Love, as defined by Capellanus essay writer fast, is that the woman (or Lady) should be worshiped, ardently pursued, and intensely desired. She is to receive this attention and devotion not because of an intrinsic beauty and nobility (read: only the members of the upper class were capable of Courtly love), but because she capable of endowing the male with virtue and honor because of and through her acceptance and faith in him. The Lady, then, is to judge her suitor upon the basis of his character, his noble deeds of gentleness and courtesy, his degree of chivalry, not his incidental qualities. In this dynamic, the Lady is obligated through her social responsibility, to accept the suitor if he can exhibit his worthiness. While Capellanus wrote his Treatise on Love in the 12th century, the fact that few major advances in social structure, politics, or religion had occurred in the three centuries previous or would for the next two centuries, it stands as a relatively accurate guideline of courtly love that persisted over those years. When the standards of Courtly love are applied to an interpretation of Sir Gawain and the Green Night, it is clear that this legend and the rather heroic requirements of Courtly love are indeed overlapped. Gawain is both a man and a Christ-figure, he is the ultimately honorable chivalrous man worth of the love of any Lady.