A Woman Supporting Her Man Essay, Research Paper
A WOMAN SUPPORTING HER MAN
There is nothing enduring in life for a woman, except what she builds in a man s heart. This quote by Judith Anderson provides a very accurate description of the role a woman was expected to play in med-evil times. This is the time frame in which Marie de France wrote the lay she called Eliduc. While it is a decent story, it is hardly distinguishable from all other med-evil stories except in one instance the role of a woman. Though the story revolves around her husband the title character, it is three different roles which Guildeluec plays that makes this story unique.
If one were to examine every great man in history, the one thing that most would have in common is a supporting wife by their side. As was John and Jackie, or Franklin and Eleanor, so were Eliduc and his faithful wife Guildeluec. The first role Guildeluec played in the story is the typical role of the supporting wife. This idea that a woman s role in life was to service her man was very typical of med-evil thinking and it is one Guildeluec plays perfectly. This is shown initially be de France telling the reader of her influential family. Having an influential family was a prized quality in a woman of her day. Another quality, which Guildeluec possessed, was strength, which she shows by not only surviving separated from her husband but also remaining loyal to him. We see evidence of Guildeluec faithfulness to her lord when Eliduc returns home, She lamented to herself and often ask him whether someone had told him that she had misbehaved or done wrong while he was out of the country, for she would willingly defend herself in
front of his people, if he wished (120). Through her family and character Guildeluec masterfully plays her first role as a med-evil wife.
The world s battle fields have been in heart chiefly; more heroism has been displayed in the household, than on the most memorable battlefields in history. If Henry Ward Beecher needs any evidence to support this theory, he need look no father than the second role Guildeluec plays in Eliduc. Although it wasn t until late in the story, Guildeluec embodies the role of hero when she saves her lord s mistress, The lady arose, picked it up and quickly came back, placing the beautiful flower inside the maidens mouth. After a short while she revived and breathed (124). This intelligent act of heroism by Guildeluec is even more commendable because the girl she saved (Guilliadun) was her husband mistress. This act of compassion towards a woman she has every right to hate is one argument for Guildeluec s role as a heroine. More evidence of Guildeluec s role as a heroine can be seen when she decides not to stand in the way of true love and ask for a divorce. While some argue this is merely Guildeluec s way of throwing in the hat, those people fail to realize that for a least two people this was that action of a hero. By saving the life of her husband s mistress and asking for a divorce, the second role Guildeluec plays in this story is that of the hero.
The final role Guildeluec plays is probably the most unexpected of the three a feminist. After Guildeluec heroically asks Eliduc for a divorce she decides to become a nun. The act of becoming a nun is for all purposes the most extreme act of feminism that a woman can possibly par-take in because it is saying, for the rest of my life I do not need a man to bring me happiness. We the reader can she how intent she is in this new feminist role by her conscious rationale which de France shows us, When the lady saw
how they (Eliduc and Guilliadun) looked, she spoke to her husband and asked him for permission to leave and to separate from him, for she wanted to be a nun and serve God (125). This conscious act of choosing herself over a man is a prime example of how Guildeluec s third role in the story is that of a feminist.
Though the story focuses on her husband, it is the three different roles that Guildeluec plays that make Eliduc by Marie de France a unique story. Through the course of the story Guildeluec plays the role of a supportive wife, heroine, and finally a feminist. This portrayal of a woman in multi-roles in a decidedly different approach then the med-evil belief that a woman s only role in life was to service her lord. Or perhaps, this is just another example of a med-evil woman supporting her man.