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The Medieval Female Perspective

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The Medieval Female Perspective

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  • April 2013
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Throughout history the objectification and poor classification of women has been universally observed in societies all over the world. It was often customary for women to come second to men in class, as it was also common for women to be subservient and complacent in any situation presented to her by a man present in her life. Over time, women have gained momentum in the uphill battle for quality respect and equal treatment as it pertains to her place in the world, but this phenomenon is relatively new and in our earlier times of history it was very rare to see a woman with high power who commanded respect from men and women alike. By comparing and contrasting Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Marie de France's Lanval I have been able to contemplate and evaluate the presentation of women during the medieval period and then identify the differences between these presentations. While both of these stories place great emphasis on the importance of youth and beauty, the treatment and status of Chaucer's and Marie de France's women considerably differ. Marie de France uses the beauty bestowed upon women as a tool to bend the actions of men to her will while Chaucer uses the beauty granted to women as an excuse to live life without significant consequence. In Marie de France's Lanval each woman present in the story commands respect in a manner that was not common during this time period. Whether it is a beautiful hand maiden, the mystery woman of Avalon, or the Queen, each woman has the opportunity to directly address a man of higher status and importance almost as an equal. In the early part of the story, Lanval, a poor knight, is resting in peace and is approached by a pair of beautiful hand maidens he does not know. These maidens greet him and command him to follow them and offer him safe guided passage to their destination. "Lord Lanval, the lady we owe duty / A lady of valor, wisdom, beauty / It's for you our lady has sent us. Now come along with us, do!...

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