Essay: Medieval Literature
Apart from love, misogyny is rampant in medieval literature. Even many of the Fabliaux – those roughly merry tales in verse – would reveal an express hatred of women as felt by men (Benson and Andersson). The Romance of the Rose puts it thus: “Mad indeed is the man who trusts her,” even though the writing had been reverently begun by the devotee of the sex (de Lorris and de Meun). Tupper writes on Guillaume de Lorris:
A formidable anthology of famous phillippics against marriage was treasured by that most exasperating of husbands, the Wife of Bath’s fifthly and lastly, the jolly clerk Jankin, whose long and unseasonable readings therefrom drove his high-tempered dame to frenzy. The fabulous cow, Chichevache, which feeds entirely upon patient wives, has always, on account of scarcity of diet, a lean and hungry look, while its companion, Bicorne, choosing far more wisely patient husbands as its food, is always fat and in good case. The great Knight of La Tour-Landry, a race of Anjou so exalted that it boasted the possession of a family romance, as a noble Irish house vaunts its banshee, writing in 1371 a book of counsel for his three daughters, fills many of his paternal pages with examples of women who were false or foolish or too free of tongue. Even chivalry that bows its heart at the shrine of beauty recks as little of married wit and wisdom as of a wife’s eager wishes – indeed to the knight a woman’s will seems willfulness.
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