preview

Gender Roles In Medieval England As A Patriarchy, By Margery Kempe

Good Essays
Medieval England was considered to be a Patriarchy, due to the serious gender roles which cast men as superior to women. Margery Kempe attempted time and time again to break the boundaries of the gender roles put in place by society. The men in her life tried to stop her, and bring her back to the social norms of what it meant to be a women living in the time period: John Kempe, her priest, Christ etc. To analyze Kempe, it is first important to note what was expected of medieval women; “the classical females are portrayed as vessels of chastity, purity, and goodness” (O’Pry-Reynolds, 37). She was not your typical female; she wanted to break free from the strict expectations of women; “Men and women of the medieval period and medieval literature…show more content…
John Kempe, the husband of Kempe, was a relationship abuser. Although that term was unknown at the time, there is evidence that he had complete ownership over his unwilling wife. However, it is important to note what some of the laws were of marriage at the time, so they can be applied to the text. “It seems clear, however, that women, then as now, were most vulnerable in the home, at the hands of their own kin. Legislators gave great leeway to the men of the household to discipline their women…” (Bennett, Karras 107). Discipline, at the time, was legal to be given by the man of the house, and there were no repercussions for him to face; “Corporeal punishments of the wife and children were considered natural privileges of the father figure who acted as the king’s and ultimately as God’s proxy within the small family unit” (Classen 195). After giving birth to fourteen children, Kempe wanted to stop having sex, and stop having children. Without taking her wishes into account, John told her that she was not allowed to deprive him of sex. This is an example of how Kempe was used, in order for John to get what he wants:…show more content…
A mystical marriage is, “a vision in which Christ tells a soul that He takes it for His bride, presenting it with the customary ring, and the apparition is accompanied by a ceremony; the Blessed Virgin, saints, and angels are present” (Catholic Encyclopedia). Obviously Kempe was ecstatic about the arrangement, because it was an honor to be chosen. However, even Christ himself was guilty of objectifying Kempe. He tells her, “‘I command you, boldly call me Jesus, your love, for I am your love and shall be your love without end” (Page Number). Jesus is commanding Kempe to be in love with him, which is ownership. He is using his power to make her marry and love him. He also displays denial of autonomy to Kempe, in all of his commands to her. He tells her that if she wants to be perfect, she needs to; fast, stop eating meat, stop praying on beads, weep, and contemplate. He also tells her that it is within her job to love him and lie with him; “I want to be loved as a son should be loved by the mother, and I want you to love me, daughter, as a good wife ought to love her husband” (Page Number). Christ denied Kempe to make choices for herself; he takes away her