Gender Roles as Percieved Through Guigemar

1305 Words6 Pages
In society there are always stereotypes and unwritten rules that are followed. During the era of Norman England, gender roles were a prominent facet of life; men and women adhered to strict codes of conduct. Men are idealized as strong, dominant, and respectful, whereas women are elegant and courtly. If an individual does not meet the standards of society, they are shunned. However, not everyone agrees with the heavy stereotypes laid down by the social order such as male dominance and proper courting. Marie de France is one of these people. She depicts her views of gender expectations through literature. Within the poem Guigemar, Guigemar and his lady fulfill and contradict what would be considered as gender norms within society: female inferiority, traditional courtship, and male dominance. Marie de France does this to criticize and combat the societal expectations and inherent inequalities in Norman England. The poem begins by Marie immediately introducing and defending herself as a writer. She declares that in her culture, People should praise anyone who wins admiring comments for herself but anywhere there is a man or a woman of great worth, people who envy their good fortune often say evil things about them. (5-10) This introduction reflects the negativity her society has against female writers. Where Marie de France comes from, many people disagree with women having power through literature. They disagree with women having much power at all. Because of this, Marie de France feels the urge to protect herself from those people. She argues that credit and respect should be bestowed upon anyone who earns it, regardless of their gender. Before her story even begins, Marie de France contests the idea of female inferiority. She believes the women deserve as much respect and power through literature as men. Guigemar’s lady herself is a representation
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