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wif kempe paper

wif kempe paper - Kelsey Schur General View of English...

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Kelsey Schur General View of English Literature Paper 1 October 15 th , 2007 Margery Kempe's chaste nature would have been insulted if she had lived to see the day she would be compared to Chaucer's fictional Wif of Bath of The Canterbury Tales . On the surface, pure and chaste Margery Kempe could not appear more different from the amorous Wif of Bath. While the Wif embraced her role as a wife and exploited it for every last benefit, especially those of sexual and monetary natures, Kempe left that role behind entirely. Instead, in the middle of her life after having played the role of wife for some years, Margery chose to become chaste and devote her life to spirituality and Christ. How could one find any common ground between these women? If the reader scrutinizes the methods of storytelling of these women and their actions in the recounted events, he can find many similarities. Both in their lives and in the tales they tell, these two women use the same techniques to advance their agendas: calling up respected sources, exaggerating their accounts, and inserting themselves into stories familiar to their era. Through these methods, they are able to exploit their society's views to create the lives they want – lives in which they can determine their own purpose and goals. Both women quote sources respected in medieval society to support their lifestyles, but each woman has an interesting technique to skew those sources to her point of view. The Wif picks and chooses which (oft misinterpreted) advice of the Bible to follow. For example, she rejects what she sees as Jesus scrutinizing a Samaritan woman for having too many husbands as too imprecise an instruction (15 – 25) and later also rejects the Apostle's instruction to women not to wear too much finery (348 - 351). However, she willingly uses many other examples from the Bible to her purpose – the many wives of Solomon, Abraham, and Jacob, as examples of multiple marriages and accepts the statement by the Apostle Paul that she has the freedom to marry, which according to her also gives her the
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prerogative as a wife to reject virginity as a personal spiritual aspiration. (35 - 74) Through this picking and choosing, she maneuvers these statements to justify having five husbands in her lifetime thus far, when otherwise religious thought would be the most likely source of condemnation for this conduct. These Biblical examples are not meant only to convince others, but also herself that her behavior is acceptable within a society that wouldn't find it ideal. As she goes through her argument concerning virginity, she eventually moves from saying that virginity is okay for some women but not herself because Jesus “...spak to hem that wolde live parfitly/ And lordingers, by youre leve, that am nat I.” (117 – 118) to saying that being a wife is superior. To do this, she calls upon the fact that when Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves, it was with barley bread, using it as a metaphor for wives while virgins were luxurious, expensive, but impractical white bread.
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