When speaking of medieval literature, Chaucer, Gower and Langland are quite often the most noted. However, recent studies have provided modern scholars with a wide variety of medieval women writers from all over Europe and a few in England. The most widely anthologized English female writer is Julian of Norwich. Julian was an anchoress, and as Marcelle Thiebaux notes, "The anchorite movement was widespread in England from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. Both men and women chose this extreme form of asceticism, which was favored and encouraged by the crown, the church, and the laity. Anchorholds were small, narrow cells attached to churches or friaries" (442). 1 The process of becoming an anchoress was difficult and complicated, but suffice it to say that after the process was completed "the anchoress was sealed up, never to re-emerge into the world. Penance, meditation, reading, and in some cases writing were the anchorite's sole activities" (Thiebaux 442). This was the case for Julian of Norwich. She was "well read in Scripture, dwelling especially on the Psalms, the gospels, and the epistles of Paul and John, ...and was the first English woman to write a book" (Thiebaux 443-44). Her Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich 2 possesses literary and religious value, and the work lends itself quite naturally to a feminist reading. In her clear, lucid, prose style, combined with the images of the medieval mystic, Julian establishes herself as an independent, female religious authority and she gives a staunch affirmation of the divinity of God with this unique view point: the motherhood of God.
In her fi...
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...7. All biblical references come from the Geneva Bible (which is based on the Jerome Bible) but were checked and crossed referenced with the Jerome Bible with help of Professor Behunin as the Jerome Bible is in Latin.
7 It is interesting to note that there might be a biblical correlation to the hazelnut. The name Hazel appears in the Bible, and in Jewish the name Hazel is a feminine name and means "one who sees God." ( Harrison, R.K. Biblical Hebrew England: Hodder & Stoughton, 1986.)
8 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Trans. Marie Borroff. Norton Anthology of British Literature Vol. 1, New York: WW Norton, 1993.
9 The "five fives" as they are known in medieval literature and religion can be found in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Trans. Marie Borroff. Norton Anthology of British Literature Vol. 1, New York: WW Norton, 1993, lines 640-654.
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