Marie's Lais Analysis

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Redefining the Role of Women and Love in The Lais of Marie de France Composed during the late twelfth century The Lais of Marie de France, have long been valued and studied for their literary and historical qualities. However, as she is the earliest known French woman poet, Marie’s works also allow for a productive sociological study of the lives and perspective of medieval women. Not surprising, her Lais are abound with a total of sixty-eight women and Marie categorizes them into the roles of good women, bad women, and sisters. This prompts the question, what is the purpose of the women in Marie’s Lais? This paper seeks to address this question by arguing that Marie’s Lais are a documentation of medieval women’s perspective, which she utilizes to, reassesses and critically examine the medieval era’s concepts of love and women. In an effort to prove this, this paper will analyze Marie’s portrayal of women as good, evil, and sisters. Good Women…show more content…
In Yonec and Guigemar both women are described as “noble,” “sweet,” and “faithful” women (44, 90). Despite this, they suffer under the burden of being mal-marriee and are not idealized as they commit adultery. However, unlike the latter discussed, evil women whose lust causes their demise, these women are exonerated from Marie’s critiques. This contrast is not a contradiction or an accident rather it is Marie’s representation of the social reality prevalent among nobility of the twelfth century whose fin’ Amor marriages were based on political or monetary benefit. Thus, through the female figures in Yonec and Guigemar, Marie comments on the social realities medieval women were forced to live under because of fin’ Amor conventions. Both Lais to expose the courtly society’s ideals of women, the limitations fin’ amor sets on them, and her challenge against fin’
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