Essay on Medieval Vs. Medieval Society

Essay on Medieval Vs. Medieval Society

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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 were confined by the norms of society. The characters often reflected the standards of medieval morality in real life” (O’Pry-Reynolds, 38). In The Book of Margery Kempe, Kempe faces objectification from her husband, Christ, and society in the form of instrumentality, ownership, silencing, denial of autonomy, inertness, and denial of subjectivity.
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; “Corpor...


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... 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 autonomy.
While Christ did objectify Kempe often, he was also the only male that didn’t silence her. He told her, “I would not be ashamed of you, as many other people are, for I would take you by the hand amongst the people and greet you warmly, so that they would certainly know that I loved you dearly” (Page Number).

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