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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Men and women in medieval epic literature are portrayed in a way that is contrary to the modern day ideals of male/female stereotypes. There are few examples of gender equality in medieval literature, or for that fact in medieval historical records. In the traditional epic, the ‘classical’ hero is masculine, violent, and aggressive; men exuded heroic knightly personalities while the classical females are portrayed as vessels of chastity, purity, and goodness. During the period of the Middle Ages and in its literature there are highly idealized views on manners, society, and morality. The works examined are fictional epics in which women do not play main characters but are predominately given supporting roles. These roles are important to the story and in some instances provide a catalyst for the plots within the story. The characters also serve as a guide or example of the proper behavior that is expected in Medieval society.

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