Women in History and the Rise of the City of Ladies
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.
Throughout her novel, Pizan’s discloses her insight about the oppression of women through the creation of three fictional personas; Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude and Lady Justice. The term lady applied to these characters indicates noble spirit, instead of the common notation of noble birth. While conversing with the “ladies,” Pizan discusses the topics of women in the legal system, social system and marriage. These ladies also provide Christine with a procedure to build the ‘City of Ladies,’ which will provide women with a defense against the constant disparage of men and allow them to be educated.
The Book of the City of Ladies begins with Christine’s explanation for writing the novel. After reading a book by Matheolus filled with slander and insults against women, she studies other works by philosophers and poets just to find that they all express the same opinion about women. Pizan finishes the first chapter of the book questioning God, “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,” (Couser, 126). According to the word of God, the indication of three or more witnesses supplies credibility to an accusation, in which there are numerous examples seen within literature.
In section 1.3, Lady Reason addresses Christine of the ladies’...
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