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Midieval literature - Essay Example

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Marie de France, a poetess and a woman of substance, highlights the interaction of opposition and contrast in many of her lais or narrative poems. In all the poems, she reveals the role that women play in the lives of men, or at times the other way around…
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Download file to see previous pages This ambiguity produced ambivalence in Marie's characters. Most of Marie de France's works raised issues on feminism and chauvinism. The most striking similarities are to be found in the stories of Bisclavret and Lanval.
If one were to choose which of these two stories took an ambivalent stand on the issue of the superior gender, it obviously was the story of Lanval, an allusion to Sir Launfal of the Arthurian legends. Being a narrative about the one of the Knights of the Round Table, the reader could not help but take the poem to a broader perspective, which further contributes to the point raised of the ambivalent nature of men and women alike. This is due to the fact that these tales had been widely read and studied through time and places alike. Although one would argue if this treatment should be called such. Marie de France, being a highly intelligent woman would have had a purpose for playing such contrast against each other, may be something nobler than making the woman play evil in a man's world. Instead of ambivalence, it could be more aptly called sensitivity or benevolence. Such so-called ambivalence would result to the readers being prodded to think critically or to reevalute the characters and at the same time their characterization and nature.
The issue of ambivalence is quite pale in Bisclavret. Marie de France consistently played the men as good, while the wife was faithless. It could be said that the characters kept their virtues or their evilness up to the end. In this poem, one gender was shown as consistently good while the other was consistently bad. In this narrative, the men portrayed the good parts. They could be perceived as honorable and somehow pitiful throughout. On the other hand, the women are cast as antagonistic. Bisclavret was shown as an innocent and harmless victim and a very good friend to the king. Marie de France described him in the opening lines as "a handsome knight, an able man, and acted like, a noble man". He also revealed an amiable character since "both the King and his neighbors held him dear". If this was pointed out from start to finish, it could be concluded that the character has been consistently good. (Marie's Bisclavret 1)
Bisclavret had been trusting and gullible against the wiles of his wife. He entrusted her with his most precious secret. That is, that he would change into a beast every time he goes to the wilderness and the most important thing of all ... his transformation could only be undone through his clothing. He was easily beguiled by his wife. The only time he showed a negative behavior against his wife, and then her lover was towards the end of the story. His attack was justifiable and reasonable and was born out of rage for having been wronged by the traitors. But then again, this could not be considered as an evil act since in the light of justice, his action was really justifiable. He was well loved not only by the king but by his household as well. The moment the garwolf saw the king in the forest, Bisclavret showed such gentle nature that he won the king over. Aside from the king, the people in the palace must have witnessed the same since they believed the beasts' ferocity towards his wife and her lover to be caused by a valid reason. The members of the household believed that Bisclavret "never had he acted this way to any man he'd seen, until this day. All those of the household insist there must be a reason he's doing this." ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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