The 12th Century Critique Of Abelard And Heloise

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The 12th Century romance of Abelard and Heloise sheds light on the harsh realities that women of the time had to face regarding rights to education, and freedom to love whomever they choose. Through her letters Heloise proves to be a notable intellect, especially given her uncle’s devotion to her education, which was not a given right for women at the time. Abelard, a dedicated and famed intellectual, becomes her tutor, then her lover. After Heloise’s affair with Abelard is revealed, she faces societal pressures to marry, or be doomed to a tarnished reputation. Abelard, however, faces the ruin of his reputation through marriage, which highlights how both women and marriage were highly looked down upon in academia at the time. Though the couple marries in secret, as to protect the reputation of Abelard, betrayals by family cause them to be separated by their respective vows to the Church. However, their relationship continues through their letters to each other and friends for the rest of their lives. Abelard’s lesser regard of women is indicated through the priority of his reputation over the fair treatment of Heloise, as seen through their various correspondences with respect to their courting and marriage.
While contemplating the seduction of Heloise, Abelard’s emphasis of reputation over the well-being of his lover indicates his feelings of superiority over Heloise, a woman he finds outstanding in wit. Abelard remarks in his letter, Historia Calamitatum, how when he
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