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The Figure of the Female

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  • 1. EN6016 Presentation“The Figure of the Female” 23 Jan. 2012 Megan RyanMA Medieval to Renaissance: Texts and Contexts
  • 2. “Books are so full of voices of the wise, so fullof lessons from antiquity [. . .] so great is thepower of books [. . .] that without them wewould all be rude and ignorant. Withoutbooks, we should have almost no memory ofthe past, no examples to follow.” CardinalBessarion
  • 3. The Female in Classical Antiquity •Aphrodite •Cleopatra •Helen of Troy
  • 4. The Female in Classical Antiquity“If women are expected to do the same work asmen, we must teach them the same things.” PlatoThe RepublicAGAMEMNON. I will tell thee, lady, what to do; so obey me now. Euripides Iphigenia at AulisIPHIGENIA. Better a single man should see the light than ten thousand women. Euripides Iphigenia at Aulis
  • 5. The Female and Christianity•Eve •Virgin Mary Whore/virgin dichotomy
  • 6. The Female and the Bible“The woman which thou gavest to be with me,she gave me of the tree and I did eat [. . .] Untothe woman he said [. . .] thy desire shall besubject to thy husband, and he shall rule overthee.” Genesis 3.12-6“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, [. . .]For the husband is the head of the wife as Christis the head of the church [. . .] let wives also besubject in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians5.22-5
  • 7. The Female and the Middle Ages
  • 8. Christine de Pisan“If it were customary to sendlittle girls to school, andteach them the samesubjects as are taught tobuys, they would learn just asfully and would understandthe subtleties of all arts andsciences.”
  • 9. The Figure of the Female and Chaucer “To take a wife is a glorious thing” The Merchant’s Tale “Women desire to have mastery, over their husbands, as their love, and to dominant over him” The Wife of Bath’s Tale “He freely swore upon his knighthood, never in all his life, either day or night, would he command mastery” The Franklin’s Tale “Woman is man’s joy and all his bliss” The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
  • 10. “Men, beware of your wooing, For wedding is the longest woe.” B.M. Sloane 2593 “This is not the first time”, said SirLancelot, “that ye have been displeased withme causeless, but madam, ever I must suffer you.” Malory Le Morte Darthur
  • 11. The Female and Early Modern Society
  • 12. “This Foul Leprosy of Nature”“by her aspiring mind and wanton will she quicklyprocured man’s fall” Swetnam The Arraignment of Lewd,Idle, Froward and Unconstant Women“amongst the things which change the nature andconditions of men, women and wine are set inthe forefront as the chief causes of theircalamity” Thomas Nashe The Anatomy of Absurdities“I know I have but the body of a weak and feeblewoman; but I have the heart of a king” Elizabeth I
  • 13. “Beware of making too great a fire, lest the surplus of that fire’s effect - which you intended for others - singe yourself” “man was as an unperfect building before woman was made” Rachel Speght “all women deserve not to be blamed” Aemilia Lanyer “The sincerity of our lives and quietness of conscience is a wall of brass to beat back the bullets of your vituperative scandals in your own face.” Constantia Munda
  • 14. The Tragedy of MariamCONSTABARUS. Your best are worse than men: your worst than devils.CHORUS. In a wife it is no worse to find, A common body than a common mind.MARIAM. They can but my life destroy, My soul is free from adversary’s power.SALOME. My will shall be to me instead of Law
  • 15. The Tragedy of MariamCONSTABARUS. Your best are worse than men: your worst than devils.CHORUS. In a wife it is no worse to find, A common body than a common mind.MARIAM. They can but my life destroy, My soul is free from adversary’s power.SALOME. My will shall be to me instead of Law
  • 16. Beyond the Early Modern Female• Hannah More Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education• Mary Wollstonecraft A Vindication on the Rights of Woman Maria
  • 17. Beyond the Early Modern Female
  • 18. The Female Today“The day will come when men will recognisewomen as his peer, not only at his fireside, butin the councils of the nation. Then, and not untilthen, will there be perfect comradeship, theideal union between the sexes that shall resultin the highest development of the race.” Susan B.Anthony
  • 19. The Female Today• “The day will come when men will recognise women as his peer, not only at his fireside, but in the councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” Susan B. Anthony

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