“Ganymede and Helen,” a propagandistic text circa the 12th or 13th century puts two wonderfully beautiful specimens of the sexes in debate over love; love between a man and a woman, defended by Helen, and love between two men, fought for by Ganymede. Helen represents the orthodoxy while Ganymede provides the dissenting opinion; however, by the end, Helen is declared the winner and Ganymede asks for her hand in marriage. This turn is surprising, for moments before Ganymede is pro-man love and seems to act thus only because it is how society deems he should.
It is not Ganymede who makes advances on Helen, but she who longs for his accompaniment. She is “not asked” so “she asks, and entices, / [o]ffering him her lap, her kisses, and her bosom” (27-8). Later, she even says that the creator “tried to make woman more beautiful than man, / [s]o that he may attract man to mate with woman” (146-7). However, Ganymede does not know how to receive this affection, not “knowing the role expected of him” (31) and instead chooses to be passive. From the start we see Ganymede is not interested in Helen, despite her beauty he clearly rejects her and everything she has to offer. In the book Sodom and Gomorrah, Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller postulates that Ganymede is the “representative of gay people in general . . . without any temporal or regional limitation” (Hergemöller 20). His character epitomizes homosexuality, he is an emblem of the lifestyle, and the fact that he speaks here against heterosexual love is almost poetic.
The character of Helen on the other hand seems confused as to her own sexuality, is she or is she not a virgin? The speaker says that she no longer has her maidenhead, or rather the “mo...
... middle of paper ...
...s a lesson to be learned from the poem and the characters at the end: love is between a man and a woman; anything else and be damned by God. As the Pope was not swayed by Damian’s book, neither would most of those who read or heard this tale. Helen’s argument, although compelling and logical, supported by Reason, is in place to persuade and convince the Ganymedes of the medieval world to marry a woman they do not love, or fear God’s wrath.
Brożyna, Martha A. Gender and Sexuality in the Middle Ages. Jefferson,
North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2005.
Hergemöller, Bernd-Ulrich. Sodom and Gomorrah. Gateshead, England:
Europian Union, 2001.
Ziolkowski, Jan M. Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the
Eurpoean Middle Ages. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV, 1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Why were women treated as minorities compared to men even when they had played major roles in Greek Mythology. Women have always played a very important role in Greek Society, either they were portrayed as a victim, heroine, or villain. Some women that were portrayed as these roles were Antitope, Leda, Athena, Antigone, Clytemnestra, and Medea. Antitope and Leda were portrayed as victims. Athena and Antigone were portrayed as a heroine. Clytemnestra and Medea were portrayed as villains. Antitope and Leda were portrayed as victims of rape.... [tags: Greek mythology, Zeus, Trojan War, Helen]
784 words (2.2 pages)
- Helen Keller was born on 27 June 1880 in Tuscumbia, a small town in Alabama, USA. Her father was a retired Confederate army captain and editor of the local newspaper; and her mother was an educated young woman from Memphis. When Helen Keller was 19 months old, she was afflicted by an unknown illness, which was possibly scarlet fever or meningitis which made her blind. Helen Keller was a symbol of courage and hope for all people, with the help of her teachers Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson she showed people a way to see the light even in darkness.... [tags: Helen Keller, Radcliffe College]
1146 words (3.3 pages)
- Two readings that I personally felt that I connected to were both Helen Keller and Brent Staples as well. Those two stories connected with me, not a whole lot but there were some parts then and there that connected with me. I strongly feel that I can make certain connections with Brent Staples. To him, he always thought the negative of himself first. “It was clear that she thought to herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist, or worse’ (464). I relate to Brent because for myself I tend to think the negative of myself first instead of the positive in me.... [tags: Thought, Mind, Helen Keller International]
710 words (2 pages)
- Helen Keller was born Helen Adams Keller on June 27, 1980 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her parents’ names were Arthur H. Keller and Katherine Adams Keller; she was the first of two daughters that the couple had. Helen’s family wasn’t from the wealthy class, but earned most of their profits from their cotton plantation that they owned. Helen was born a healthy baby at first being able to see, hear, and even speak by the time she was six months old. Later on in 1882, she got sick which left her blind, death, and mute (biography.com).... [tags: Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy]
1029 words (2.9 pages)
- Helen Keller: The Idol of Faith and Determination A small town known as Tuscumbia, Alabama was reviving from the civil war at the time of a very special birth; for it was the birth of a predominantly well known woman of faith, courage, and uttermost determination. Into the world came Helen Keller; a young, curious baby girl full of adventure and prosperity. This birth took place in a plantation home known as Ivy Green on the date of June 27, 1880 (Lawlor 2001). Helen was loved and admired dearly by her two parents Kate Adams Keller and Captain Arthur H.... [tags: Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, Tuscumbia]
1062 words (3 pages)
- Helen Keller is one of the most inspirational people in American history. She had to overcome physical disabilities and many other obstacles to live the life that she did. Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her parents, Arthur Keller and Kate Adams, both served for the Confederates in the Civil War (Thompson, 2003). Like most parents, they were ecstatic when Keller was born. At 18 months old, she was a happy, healthy baby already learning to say her first few words. However, one morning, she woke up with an extremely high fever and had to go to the hospital.... [tags: Biography, Helen Keller]
1058 words (3 pages)
- Learning from Helen Keller Facilitated Communication Institute Helen Keller is probably the most universally recognized disabled person of the twentieth century. (Others such as Franklin Roosevelt were equally well-known, but Keller is remembered primarily for her accomplishments which are disability-related.) Those of us who have grown up in the last half of this century have only known Keller as a figure of veneration. We know her primarily through popularized versions of her life such as the play "The Miracle Worker," or through her autobiographical works such as The Story of My Life (Keller, 1961 ) and The World I Live In (Keller, 1908).... [tags: Helen Keller Deaf Blind Essays]
3874 words (11.1 pages)
- Helen Gardner In act one scene one we discover that Helen is a very down to earth type of person as she says “when I find somewhere for us to live I have to consider something far more important than your feelings. . . .The rent”, this shows that she is thinking about the more important things in life, she is also emphasising the letter “I” which is implying that she is a lot better than her daughter, this also shows that she has a roof over Jo’s head. The beginning of this play shows that Helen enjoys drink, “pass me a glass Jo” the first thing that she thinks about is alcohol, this shows that if she can afford to buy whisky then she may have been able to find a better place for them to li... [tags: Helen Gardner Essays]
2954 words (8.4 pages)
- Helen Stoner Helen Stoner is instantly stereotyped by readers as a judicious and unpretentious lady of high society England. Conan Doyle pulls the strings of the Victorian males desires and creates a 'damsel in distress', who comes to a man for aid that she does not have the resources to conclude herself. He portrays her as a woman who is wronged and in great danger therefore adding to the suspense of the story. Analysing the assortment of clothes that she is wearing the reader can conclude that she is of sufficient 'breeding' and discreet.... [tags: English Literature Helen Stoner Essays]
3662 words (10.5 pages)
- Helen Keller Imagine a life without being able to see or hear and not knowing how to communicate with anyone around you. That world of darkness is what Helen Keller lived in for six years. Helen Keller has been an inspiration to people ever since she turned six. From 1886-1960, she proved herself to be a creative and inspiring woman of America. She was a writer and lecturer who fought for the rights of disadvantaged people all over the world. Most importantly, she overcame her two most difficult obstacles, being blind and deaf.... [tags: Helen Keller Blind Mute Death Essays Bio]
1684 words (4.8 pages)