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Lecture 4

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Erin Parker

ENG202Y – Week 4 The Book of Margery Kempe & Everyman 10/8/2013 2:01:00 PM The Book of Margery Kempe:  Some people call it the first English autobiography, others say it echoes the writing of a saint’s life (hagiography)  Margery tries to draw connections between herself and other female saints to sort of emphasize her own religious devotion  the more suffering she faces, the more she believes she is divinely sanctioned  Born c. 1373, died post-1438  Compare to another female pilgrim we’ve talked about – The Wife of Bath (Chaucer)  both are very authoritative women who embark on their journeys with a strong purpose o The Wife of Bath is more vain  hinted that her biggest reason for pilgrimage isn’t religious devotion (perhaps to get her 6thhusband) o Margery does describe a period in her life where she was lustful and proud, she moves on to being a very humble/faithful to God  uses language of marriage when describing her relationship with God  Margery manages to compromise with her husband in order to live a chaste life/marriage that she envisioned; compare to the Wife of Bath who says that a woman’s own sexual desire is equally important as chastity (in the prologue) bc “god made us go forth and multiply” and that sexual organs are made for business and pleasure o Both of them draw backing from “God”, but make different points regarding female sexual desire o Margery Kempe has a conflict between her obedience to god and her obedience to her husband (regarding a chaste marriage, pg. 370)  she doesn’t ignore her own sexual desire, but she maintains that it is better to live chastely  Eventually, Margery ends up having to not fast on Fridays (and therefore eat with her husband) so that her husband won’t sleep with her (sexually) o She discusses this with God, who tells her that this compromise with her husband is alright and commendable  After some pilgrimages, in which Margery is accused of heresy by people, her husband and her separate for a long time; she eventually nurses him when he is older (another show of her “saintliness”)  We should, however, be aware of the distinction between Margery Kempe the Author and Margery Kempe the Character o She constantly denies the fact that she’s a Lollard (heretic sect at the time), even though the evidence and her actions sorta align with the Lollardy movement  Compare scenes of Margery weeping to other images of weeping women (the wives who’s husbands have been killed in Chaucer, The Wife’s Lament from Old English poetry) o What does this tell us about female agency? o Emotional display causes people to alienate her even more which actually makes her
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