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5. Women's Voices and Roles

Carol M. Meale

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland » England

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1300-1399, 1400-1499

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631219736.2007.00010.x


In some quarters, during the medieval period, the senses were thought to open dangerous pathways to women, and hence to all of mankind. Eue bi heold. on þe forbodene Appel. & seiz him feir. and tok a delyt in þe biholdynge. And tok hire lust þerto & eet þerof: & 3af hire lord. Lo hou holy writ spekeþ. And hou inwardliche hit telleþ: how synne bi gon … Eue heold in paradys. long tale with þe Neddre. Tolde hym al þe lesson þat God heede I. tauzt hire. And Adam of þe Appel. And so þe fend þoruz hire word. vnderstod anon riht. hire vnstablenesse: & fond wey touward hire. of hire forlorenesse. (Eve looked at the forbidden apple and to her eyes it appeared delectable and she took delight in beholding it. And she took her pleasure there, and ate of it, and gave it to her lord and husband. See how Holy Writ speaks and how, through innermost meaning, it tells how sin began … Eve, in paradise, held a long conversation with the adder. She told him all the lesson about the apple which God had taught her and Adam. And so through her words, the fiend understood immediately her lack of stability and found a way to approach her, to her destruction.) These quotations are taken from the late fourteenth-century copy of the text most properly known as the Ancrene Wisse in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Eng. poet. A. 1. A work which circulated widely from the time of its composition in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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