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Ambiguous Realities (Paperback)

P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval Society & Culture

Imprint: Wayne State University Press
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9780814318737
Published: 31st October 1987
Casemate UK Academic


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The predominant cultural expectation for women in medieval and Renaissance Europe, as propagated and institutionalized by both the literate aristocracy and the medieval Church, was quite straightforward. The ideal woman was to be chaste and obedient, busy in the home and silent outside it. The Church provided two models for women: Mary, the Mother of God, and Eve, the temptress. The reality of women's lives, however, was richer and much more ambiguous. Women of all classes worked not only in the home but outside it as well. The further one reads the text of the time, the less uniformity one finds about the actual role of women.


Examining specific literary historical, and theological texts, the essays in Ambiguous Realities illustrates a number of important issues about women in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; the changes in attitude toward women, the role and status on women, the dichotomy between the public and private spheres, the prescriptions for women's behavior and the image of the ideal woman, and the difference between the perceived and the actual audience of medieval and Renaissance writers.

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