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The Lady's Man: Gawain as Lover in Middle English Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Cory J. Rushton
Affiliation:
St Francis Xavier University
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Summary

EROTICISM and the heroic go hand in hand for today's audiences: the male rhero is often only as good as his ability to bed attractive women, a trait that allows the male reader or viewer to identify with the hero's serial love affairs. An integral part of the James Bond myth is that Bond can have any woman he wants, despite (or perhaps because of) his misogynistic attitudes:

With most women his manner was a mixture of taciturnity and passion. The lengthy approaches to a seduction bored him almost as much as the subsequent mess of disentanglement. He found something grisly in the inevitability of the pattern of each affair. The conventional parabola – sentiment, the touch of the hand, the kiss, the passionate kiss, the feel of the body, the climax in the bed, then more bed, then less bed, then the boredom, the tears and the final bitterness – was to him shameful and hypocritical. Even more he shunned the mise en scène for each of these acts in the play – the meeting at a party, the restaurant, the taxi, his flat, her flat, the week-end by the sea, then the flats again, then the furtive alibis and the final angry farewell on some doorstep in the rain.

Bond often sleeps with women who are his enemies as well as allies; either way, his lovers often end up dead, leaving him free to pursue further sexual encounters.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2007

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