Women's Roles In Medieval Literature

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During medieval times, women were expected to be mothers, wives, and peace weavers, none other than that. They were required to be pure, good, and attractive in order to be portrayed as the “greatest gift to mankind.” Otherwise they would be looked upon as evil, witch-like, and monstrous. Women were expected to be adorned in jewels, well-liked, and respected by all. They shall cause no conflicts and should bow to their male authorities. Medieval literature portrayed women as either proper or monstrous. Lanval, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Beowulf all carry the pattern of women’s roles throughout the period of time.
In Beowulf, women are portrayed in two ways, confined and unconfined. The women that adhere to the roles of wives, mothers, and
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The rich and beautiful fairy represents the worthy and undesirable women. She is beautiful, yet powerful. She owns her own tent in the woods that the royal could not afford, which makes her rich, however women were not supposed to own anything in medieval times, which makes her powerful. She lured Lanval to her, unlike normal fairy tales, where the male lures the female. Lanval also follows her commands rather than the woman following the males’ orders. And lastly, the fairy came in on her noble steed to save Lanval, when in traditional stories, the male saves the damsel in distress. So, as you can see, the fairy has qualities of both types of women in medieval literature.
In summary, the role of women seen in medieval literature is seen in a pattern throughout Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Lanval. Being powerful, ugly, or disobedient made you unworthy of being a women, if you wanted to be respected and well-liked, you must become quiet and attractive. Beauty, grace, riches, and obedience all exemplify the qualities of the proper women in medieval
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