This paper will outline several issues regarding the late printed ‘romance’ of Virgilius. This is a text which fails to conform to many of the established norms for romance as a genre, although I would argue for its inclusion within the corpus. It depicts a variety of boundary crises within its narrative, particularly concerning gender roles and the body. A key trope within the text is the physical display of and the public exposure of gender difference, to allay anxiety and to constrain disobedient women. I shall interrogate textual strategies of containment and control, with particular reference to the figure of Sybilla. She functions as a site for male anxieties and patriarchal insecurities, acting as a challenge to Virgil’s power and authority. Although the text posits her as a victim, I would argue for her autonomy and ultimate emergence as victor. The focus of my interpretative analysis are the bases upon which are constructed notions of identity and subversion, marginality and repression.
This paper examines the abuse of women in (a selection of) Early Icelandic, Irish Celtic, and Welsh Celtic literature, and the relationship between literary representations and information found in other contemporary sources, such as law codes. Many scholars have argued that women in these societies enjoyed greater privileges than women on the continent, but is this true when it comes to abuse? Furthermore, what rule or social code governs a woman’s fate after she has been abused in the different literatures: will she be avenged, how can she be avenged, and who will avenge her honour?
Seldom do medieval romances put men’s weapons in the hands of a woman. It may be for the suicide of the woman abandoned by her lover. The other motive would be when a woman tries to attack a man with a weapon. Normally this will lead to cruel death as punishment for the woman’s action. This paper will go through close-reading of a few French and German texts (Gerbert de Montreuil’s and Manessier’s Continuations of the Conte du Graal, the Nibelungenlied, Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan), comparing means available for a woman’s revenge, as to understand how the crossing of gender boundaries might come into play to explain the surprisingly swift and harsh retribution awaiting the woman wielding a weapon.
The Chaucerian poem The Legend of Good Women compiles the stories of ten classical women who were betrayed or/and abandoned by their lovers. These women were in fact legendary in Ancient times and afterwards, and they seem to have been chosen by Chaucer because they were love martyrs. They sacrificed their lives for Love and, quite contrary to a common depiction of female characters, they were faithful to their beloved, even if that implied breaking an ancient rule. Through their deeds Thisbe, Medea, Ariadna and Hypermnestra proved to be disloyal to their fathers. However, they did not go unpunished.