For Pity’s Sake

28 Jun

Silences’s male training could not have counteracted her female nature were it not God’s will. During a battle, Silence prays:

…Bials Dex, chaieles,
Ki m’a[s] jeté de maint anui,
Done moi vertu viers cestui!
Cho qu’afoiblie en moi Nature
Cho puist efforcier T’aventure
Mais se Tu viols ne me puet nuir
Rois, n’amirals o son empire.

Fair God, for pity’s sake,
who have delivered me from great trouble,
give me strength against this man!
That which Nature makes weak in me,
may Your Providence strengthen.
Unless You wish it,
I cannot be harmed by any
king, admiral, or whole army.

This view, not expressed elsewhere in the romance, contradicts a basic premise of the plot that society constructs gender roles.

Valerie R. Hotchkiss, Clothes Make the Man, Female Cross Dressing in Medieval Europe (New York and London, Garland publishing, Inc.,1996).

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