City of Ladies

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Christine de Pizan 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 Book of the City of Ladies that is most intriguing to contemporary readers. Christine was the first woman writer to possess the ability to identify and address the issues of misogyny in the literature of her time, as well as society. This characteristic made her a champion of the feminist movement that was yet to come. Although Christine never addressed the issue of "changing the structures of her society," her ability to identify misogyny during a time when it was a normal aspect of women's lives, reveals the insight of the young woman. The beginning scene of The Book of the City of Ladies describes Christine looking at a book by Matheolus "When I held it open and saw from its title that it was by Matheolus, I smiled, for though I had never seen it before, I had often heard that like other books it discussed respect for women" (3). Christine's belief in intellectual equality is found in the theme of this story with a young lady reading for pleasure. 14th century women were rarely literate. Choosing reading as a pleasurable activity would have been uncommon. What Christine discovers upon reading this text is just the opposite of her expectations. She realizes that Matheolus is not respectful...
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