Essay on Abelard and Heloise

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HIST 101

Gender As Seen in Abelard and Heloise

The gender views of European medieval society were largely built upon the views of Aristotle and others alike that degraded the status of women into a lower form of life, characterizing them as secondary to men. Many successive Christian intellects such as St. Augustine also contributed to establishing the idea of misogyny in the medieval views toward the female sexuality, which helped to create the gender stereotype that severely separated the role of men and women. One possible explanation for which created gender inequality in the society may be attributed to medieval education that regarded the Bible and Aristotle as unquestionable authority, as well as the limited
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Therefore, they were not so much different from conventional medieval men and women.

Throughout the letters, Abelard and Heloise’s perspectives on gender roles were strictly based upon the traditional views on sexuality. For instance, in the egotistical mind of Abelard, women in the medieval society were viewed as a weaker sex who need help of the a stronger male since there were certainly things that “cannot be carried out by women”5. Moreover, Heloise, despite her being a woman, did not seem to be shocked at the idea that men are superior to women. Instead, she instinctively acknowledged the weaker nature of women indicated by her discussion of her abbey which she called “feminine”; she also described it as weak, frail, and needing a more careful attention6. Throughout the first four letters from Abelard and Heloise, they both held congruent views regarding masculinity and femininity, and this dichotomous way of looking at gender indeed did not deviate much from the conventional thinking of the medieval society.

Abelard and Heloise’s perspectives over the gender role in the society were also found in their discussions on the men-women relationship. As suggested by their agreement on the gender views, their reasoning over the relationship of lovers seemed to go no further from the notion that women are predestined to be an obstacle
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