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Role of Women in The Middle Ages

The history of the Middle Ages is generally known through the recorded accomplishments of wealthy aristocratic men. The rigidly stratified social structure allowed little or no chance for advancement, especially for the very poor. Therefore, the voice of the poverty stricken masses goes unheard or is simply drowned out by the ruling class. However, beyond even the discontented whisper of the poor, another voice without even a breath to push it yearns to be heard. This is a voice that would ultimately help to integrate medieval society and help to establish a more civilized culture in Britain. No louder than a whisper, this is the voice of women. It is a silent cry whose importance was underestimated and undervalued both economically and socially.

Women were valued in the Middle Ages, but only as an economic commodity (Mundy 212). They served two main functions within medieval society: child bearer and manual laborer. Because women represented a large source of cheap labor, they quickly became the mainstay of the medieval economy. In many cases they would work along side men in the fields. However, women were paid less than children’s wages for their work (Cipolla 234). The Church would not allow women to hold jobs that required literacy (Mundy 209). In fact, aside from hard labor the only occupation open to women was midwifery. “In hospital work women were almost as important as men” (Mundy 210). The textile industry was dominated by women, especially the woolen and silk industries (Cipolla 200). Though women enjoyed virtual domination in these crafts, they were still paid next to nothing. In addition to the intense labor, women had household duties to fulfill, especially if a woman was married (Cipolla 266)….

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… 1970. p. 77-79,81,86,91,96,97,99,100-103,117.

St. Bernardino. Extracts from Sermons 18-22, “Thou shalt

love thy neighbor as thyself.”(Luke X,27). Rpt in Life

in the Middle Ages Ed. Coulton, G.G. Cambridge:

University Press, 1954, vol. 3. p. 222,224.

St. Jerome. “Letter to Eustochium”. Rpt in Life in the

Middle Ages. Ed. Coulton, G.G. Cambridge: University

Press, 1954, vol. 4. p.15-17.

von Regensburg, Berthold. Sermons 242,253,397,408. Vienna:

Franz Pfriffa, 1862, vol. 1

Formalist Literary Criticism Literature Essays Literary Criticism

Formalist Literary Criticism Russian Formalism is driven by an interest in renewing or revitalizing the emotional experience of art through experiments with form. Art is not a mode of thought, but rather a way of feeling. Aesthetic shortcuts employed by artists may more effectively communicate a thought, but they also corrupt and ultimately destroy the artistic experience as well. Critics like Victor Shlovsky want to renew an audience’s awareness of the ordinary, to make it extraordinary. “The purpose of art is to impart sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known…Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important” (741). Because old forms have become stagnant, artists must strive to invent new strategies to slow the reader down, to disorient, or defamiliarize him or her. At all costs, art must avoid the audience being able to make sense of the whole aesthetic experience from a small selection of details. Formalists place an ethical duty on the shoulders of the artist to innovate and roughen poetic language. It is the journey through the text and not arriving at its ultimate destination which makes literature valuable and important. Works Cited Shlovsky, Victor. “Art as Technique” The Critical Tradition. Ed., David H. Richter, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

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