An unlikely candidate to dispute the unfair, misogynistic treatment of women by men and society, Christine de Pizan successfully challenged the accepted negative views that were being expressed about women by the all-male literary world of her era. Part of Christine’s uniqueness stems from the time in which she lived, the middle to late 1300’s. The lack of a positive female role model to pattern herself after made Christine a true visionary in the fight for the equal rights of women. Her original ideas and insight provided a new and more intelligent way to view females. Pizan’s work, The Book of the City of Ladies, provided women much needed guidance in how to survive without the support of a man.
It is Christine’s literary work The …show more content…
Her comments not only let the reader know that she is displeased with this piece of literature, but that she feels that reading it is neither elevating nor useful. Thus, she insinuates the futility of the work itself. Christine cleverly goes on to comment on the subject of the character of women by flattering her male contemporaries. She writes, "…it would be impossible that so many famous men--such solemn scholars, possessed of such deep and great understanding, so clear-sighted in all things, as it seemed--could have spoken falsely on so many occasions…" (4). Christine intelligently uses this "sugar coated" method to emphasize the point –- the point that these men were wrong. Although Christine was obviously outspoken, she knew her limitations. Her work would not be recognized, or even read, if she had openly attacked the male writers. Therefore, she instead chose to build them up the "solemn scholars" before opposing their positions. Christine’s ironic humility does not stop with the prominent male writers of her time. She addresses God with the same rhetorical question as she asks, "Oh, God, how can this be? For unless I stray from my faith, I must never doubt that Your infinite wisdom and most perfect goodness ever created anything which was not good" (Pizan 5). Again, Christine carefully opposed the male point of view this time using Biblical references.
Women in Renaissance Italy faced rigid societal standards to which they were supposed to conform. They lived public lives, directed almost exclusively by other people in regards to significant decisions. However, this does not mean that a rise above the oppressive nature of the Renaissance was impossible. Several exceptional women were able to challenge their given positions in a society through their education, practices, seclusion, beauty, and roles. In an examination of several positions, through the Exhortations to Women and to Others If They Please by Lucrezia Marinella and the letters of Laura Cereta, a Renaissance feminist, women can be seen as accepting of their position in society or rebelling against it. Their lives and prescriptive writings show how one can either follow the role given to them or exceed beyond it and become an exceptional woman.
Prior to and throughout the late middle ages, women have been portrayed in literature as vile and corrupt. During this time, Christine de Pizan became a well educated woman and counteracted the previous notions of men’s slander against women. With her literary works, Pizan illustrated to her readers and women that though education they can aspire to be something greater than what is written in history. Through the use of real historical examples, Christine de Pizan’s, The Book of the City of Ladies, acts as a defense against the commonly perceived notions of women as immoral.
From a plethora of many authors and compilations over many centuries comes the fourteenth century The Thousand and One Nights, a Middle Eastern frame story during which there are as many as four implanted stories. In the outermost frame of this tale, a king who is betray by his wife vows to take a new wife each night and kill her the next morning in order to prevent further unfaithfulness. The main inner frame are stories from one of his wives which she continues each night to keep the king interested and thus postpone her death. Through these stories, the reader can examine the role of men and women in this time, specifically how women function in conjunction to men in the text. The reader may assume the men are superior while the woman are inferior, but through close reading of the text, the reader will discover that women in the text are only treated subordinately by men in the story but are revealed to the reader as the more powerful of the sexes. Authors reveal the power of women by their prowess at trickery or “women’s cunning” (The Thousand 1181), and their ability to force the actions of male counterparts. The reader can examine men’s attempt to stifle this power, which further acknowledges the women’s merit, through the excessively frequent occurring instances of men treating the women as insignificant, as well as instances when women are turned to ungulate animals, such
A woman’s alternative would be becoming a nun, giving up all social freedoms and dedicating your life to serving the poor and God. Women who were subject to this life received a much more thorough education than other women, in order to properly learn religious concepts and theory. Otherwise, a woman’s education was limited to basic reading abilities paired with instruction on how to do homely activities. A woman of this time period had utterly no voice in politics. Law was man’s law. The life of these women were controlled by the men who surround them, their opinions meaning little to nothing. The life of a woman in medieval times was bleak and varied little. Romantic literature was on the rise, full of damsels in distress that only further perpetuated negative stereotypes of women during these times. These romances were full of helpless women in situations only a man could get them out of, or else they would be doomed. Despite this cultural oppression of women in this time period, some strong female characters were erected in medieval romances. A perfect example of an abnormally strong and independent female main character would be Enide from Erec and Enide written by Chrétien de
“Lanval” by Marie de France and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer are both medieval romances that put a knight on trial by a queen’s court for his treatment of a lady. Throughout the course of this paper, readers will get the opportunity to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and that during the twelfth-century women were superior to men, specifically in their relationships and marriages; however, today men dominant individuals, especially in working world.
The medieval church taught that women were inferior to men and that they should be compliant and obedient to their fathers and husbands. Men look down to women as their respect for their ladies are limited as in Canterbury Tales were these women start out as beneath men. These same men who feel the need to arrogate women of their dignity find their fate is later put into the women’s hands. Although a women is taciturn and does not speak out to the men and talk of their animadversion toward the men’s behavior, these same ladies have the power to then decide how these men should serve their punishment for their sacrileges and unruly decisions as in the “Wife of Bath’s Tale”, were after his life was saved by an old lady, in return this old women requested to him to “take me as your wife” (p.138). A women’s love and passion should be approached with appreciation and admiration otherwise being inconsiderate and impassionate will turn a women against a man.
The City of Ladies has been regarded as the first book to speak out for women. Around the time of the book being written women were being portrayed as objects that are not equal to men. Christine picked up a book by Matheolus, a 13th-century writer. In the book, Matheolus was writing about marriage. He said that women make men's lives miserable. Christine felt distraught at being a woman. After thinking that, three women appeared next to Christine. Each woman represents a virtue. The three virtues tell Christine that she must build a city for the best women. The book continues teaching Christine about feminism and why men slander women. The City of Ladies can compare very well to A Thousand and One Nights. In A Thousand and One Nights, Sultan Shahrayar finds out that his wife is unfaithful, he kills her he also swears that he will marry a different woman every night. When the sun rises he will kill her. One of his wives, Scheherazade, told him half a story each night so that he lets her live to the next night, so she can complete the story. A lot of these stories had feminist and feminism theme in them, similar to The City of Ladies. By the end of the one thousand and one nights, Sultan Shahrayar’s idea about women changed. He respected women and thought they were equal to men.
Christine de Pizan’s view also aligns with Augustine’s medieval view of leadership. Machiavelli’s view, however, strays the farthest from Plato and Augustine. In The Book of the City of Ladies, Christine presents an allegorical city made up of great ladies from history. Allegorical characters Reason, Rectitude, and Justice guide Christine
This investigation strives to compare and contrast of the role of women during the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. The inquiry is significant because in order to understand the culture and ethics of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages it is crucial to understand the importance of women. The issues that will be addressed include: the role of women in the Roman Empire, the role of women in the Middle Ages, and the similarities as well as the differences of the two major time periods. This investigation will focus on the time period of 27 BC to 1485 BC and the places investigated will include Europe, more specifically Rome. This will be accomplished through a detailed examination of the role of women in the
In medieval literature, the role of women often represents many familiar traits and characteristics which present societies still preserve. Beauty, attractiveness, and grace almost completely exemplify the attributes of powerful women in both present and past narratives. European medieval prose often separates the characteristics of women into two distinct roles in society. Women can be portrayed as the greatest gift to mankind, revealing everything that is good, pure, and beautiful in a woman's life. On the other side of the coin, many women are compared to everything that is evil and harmful, creating a witch-like or temptress quality for the character. These two aspects of European culture and literature show that the power of
In the modern world women work, vote, run for office and the list goes on. In most aspects, women are equal to men. However, this was not always the case. In centuries past, women were not viewed as being equal to men socially, intellectually, or politically and were thought incapable of accomplishing anything of value. Consequently, many cultures held the view that women were possessions whose only purpose was to be subservient to men. The view of women as mere objects is evident in various works of literature throughout the ages. Two classic works of literature that exemplify this are The Thousand and One Nights and Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of
Women withstood a multitude of limitations in the medieval era. Due to the political, social, and religious restrictions women encountered, historians neglected to realize that they demonstrated agency. The female experience is something that has been overlooked until recently. Unfortunately, without the knowledge of how women found ways to exert their power, we are experiencing a deficit of knowledge in this period. Through the close examination of the primary sources: The Gospel of Mary, Dhouda’s Liber Manualis, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the creative means of female force are displayed.
Thus, we see that in a sense, Catholicism acted as a catalyst in the development of female education. Paradoxically enough though, at the same time, it limited the possible level of knowledge they could attain. The thought of the supposedly foolish, sinful female sex breaking the bonds of ignorance made many people fear the possibility of women reading “forbidden” books. Dante’s “La vita nuova”, the Petrarchan sonnets and the “Decameron” are a few examples of books that were considered lasciviously dangerous and kept off-limits (Grendler, 1989). Indeed, women could be educated, yet within a certain framework. Their level of knowledge only went up to a point, in order to make sure they grew up to be exemplary, pious, Christian housewives.
The women play a big role in the story The Book of the City of ladies and the movie The Lion in Winter. In the story The Book of the City of Ladies women are the main character. The role of the women in this story was to present an accurate portrait of the true and essential nature of women and show that the world that men and women are as good as one another. Feminism in 1405 was terrible and even now in 2017 still has a long way to go. The Book of the city of Ladies is not just a story but it’s kind of an anthology of women from ancient history doing crazy, amazing, and often gory things. This story revels the truth about women and how powerful we really are and how when we really put or minds to something we can achieve it. Christine de Pizan built a whole city from the ground up, if that alone doesn’t show you how powerful women are, that nothing will.
Examining Pizan’s works proves to be interesting since she is the first western female to write about these particular issues. Her view of vulnerability of all was hardened further upon marrying her then husband, Étienne du Castel as he encouraged her to continue on her educational path as opposed to stifling her progress. Lastly her choice to want to remain an independent woman after her husband death led to her being a pioneer for feminism. According to Kate Langdon Forhan, she believes that Pizan’s awareness of human nature, view of prudence as self-interest, and functional view of the state are the main issues that brought Christine de Pizan to understand human nature as she does. By doing the things that men in her era were believed to be doing, she was able to come to conclusion of the understanding of vulnerability of all. She was aware of the vulnerability of every person within the political order and therefore takes that up as a theme she addresses in her works. Her response is that we need more justice within the society and the rule of law.