Role of Women in Medieval Text
The modern opinion of the role of women in romance is based upon the ideal that there exists freedom of choice and equality. Culhwch and Olwen does not issue this freedom to women, and the depictions of her role in society differ greatly from the circumstances of women in Knight of the Cart (Lancelot). Women in Culhwch and Olwen are more dependent on men than in Knight of the Cart (Lancelot), and they are unable to change the way they live their lives. The significance of women is much more prevalent in Knight of the Cart (Lancelot), bestowing upon them a sense of power and a modern independence that isn’t seen in Culhwch and Olwen. A woman’s position in a society can be accurately conveyed through the representation of the culture’s opinion of women. Scenarios from Culhwch and Olwen convey that women were considered to exist for the honor and pleasures of men, and their role as wives are to be “dispensers of gifts” (85) to their husbands. This represents a view of women as a man’s material possession, and as objects that are given a minute role in society. When Culhwch approaches Arthur with a request for a favor, he is granted whatever he should name, save many items of Arthur’s property. The last thing he inclu
This deception is portrayed as a mystical, enchanting power, thus creating an excuse for the influence over men. This supports reasoning that women in Culhwch and Olwen are situated in a sphere of insignificance that they cannot escape, and are considered unworthy of elevation to a social level that displays the human quality of self ownership. Lancelot believes her power over him to be so great that "if the queen wished it, he could come in to her: the iron bars would never keep him out. These women, especially Guinevere, are deemed by society as strong and sacred, and a man would "as soon cut his own throat as treat a woman dishonourably". Knight of the Cart (Lancelot) displays a more modern view of women, highlighting their independence in taking on roles that are traditionally not those a woman would take, and serving to accentuate the woman"tms influence in her ability to captivate the hearts of men. There is nothing that Olwen can do to even slightly shift her situation, for she is completely reliant on the deeds of men in order to be free. This wiliness is necessary in order to give women a way to receive what they want from a society that doesn"tmt feel the need to openly fulfill their desires. One cannot help but consider that he is naming his possessions in order of importance, implying that his wife is thought to be less important than many of his belongings. This situation is an example of the ability of women in Knight of the Cart (Lancelot) to make decisions that can have an effect and an outcome. (259) Through his death, they would be together, thus demonstrating that his love for her was based on equality rather than the attainment of her affections. She then commanded her preceptor to strip her grave each year so that it would be forever barren. She tells Culhwch to "ask her of her father" and appease his demands, then "Olwen too shalt Culhwch get. (99) Knight of the Cart (Lancelot) displays a contrasting representation of love that stems from a high regard for the woman in particular, a love that is all-consuming. In contrast to Knight of the Cart (Lancelot), independence is not a trait that is given to women in Culhwch and Olwen; in fact, women are completely reliant on men.
Some topics in this essay:
Culhwch Olwen, Cart Lancelot, Meleagant Lancelot, Lancelot Guinevere, Chief Giant,
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