Essay about Peasant Lifestyle In Davis´ The Return of Martin Guerre

Essay about Peasant Lifestyle In Davis´ The Return of Martin Guerre

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The Return of Martin Guerre, written by Natalie Zemon Davis, is the tale of a court case that takes place in sixteenth century France. Martin Guerre is a peasant who deserted his wife and family for many years. While Martin Guerre is gone, a man named Arnaud du Tilh arrives at Martin’s village and claims to be Martin Guerre. Bertrande, who is Guerre’s wife, Guerre’s sisters, and many of the villagers, accepts the imposter. After almost three years of being happily married, Bertrande takes the fraud to court under pressure of Pierre Guerre, her stepfather and Guerre’s brother. Arnaud du Tilh is almost declared innocent, but the real Martin Guerre appears in the courthouse. Throughout this tale, many factors of the peasant life are highlighted. The author gives a very effective and detailed insight to a peasant’s life during the time of Martin Guerre. Davis does a successful job of portraying the peasant lifestyle in sixteenth century France by accentuating the social, cultural, and judicial factors of everyday peasant life.
Davis gives various examples of the social norms that peasants lived under during the sixteenth century. When Sanxi, Guerre’s father, and his family decided to leave their village, Davis states that the majority of men who leave their village do so because they “were usually not heir to their family’s property, as was Sanxi Daguerre, but younger brothers who could not or would not remain in the ancestral household” (Davis 6). This highlights the idea that being the heir to the family’s inheritance is a great indicator of how one’s life as a peasant would carry on. It is very likely that if one is the heir, then the individual shall stay at their property and assume the role as head of the household once the “s...

... middle of paper ...

... insight into how the peasant judicial system attempted to benefit the peasants but was mostly filled with inadequacies.
Davis addresses various important factors in a peasant’s life. She highlights many components of peasant society, including their social classes and how their society values property in different ways. Davis also includes the peasants’ culture. She elaborates on the importance of children and the consequences of not being able to produce children. She also explains typical marriage procedures and customs. Lastly, Davis talks about some of the laws and common uses of the judicial system by peasants. By incorporating these factors into her book Davis is successful at recreating life for peasants in France during the sixteenth century.

Works Cited

Davis, Natalie Zemon. The return of Martin Guerre. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983.

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