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Medieval Ballads Essay Research Paper There are

Medieval Ballads Essay, Research Paper

There are many medieval ballads that contain male-female relationships. However,

the ballads ?Edward?, ?Bonny Barbara Allen?, and ?Mattie Groves?

stand out because they all contain atypical male-female relationships. The

similarities the three ballads share in their male-female relationships are: 1)

there is always a conflict between the male and the female and 2) none of these

relationships are representative of the ideal male-female relationship or

marriage. Although the male-female relationship in the ballad ?Edward?

revolves around a mother and a son, their relationship is just as convoluted as

the ones found in the other ballads. Edward and his mother have a tense and

stormy relationship, which is highlighted through their conversations and

interactions with each other. Edward?s tenseness towards his mother is shown

through his replies to his mother?s question ?why dois your brand sae drap

wi bluid?? Instead of telling her the truth, Edward is at first hesitant and

lies to his mother by saying the blood on his sword is from hawk, and then says

it is actually from his horse. Eventually Edward cracks due to his feelings of

guilt and admits to his mother that he actually killed his father (line 21).

Expecting to find at least some sympathy and advice from his mother, since it

was the mother who gave Edward the idea of killing his father, Edward, instead,

is bombarded by a series of questions from his mother. These questions make

Edward angry, especially since one of them is how is Edward going to show

penance for his actions (line 25)? Even though it is Edward?s mother who gives

Edward the idea of murdering his father, by interrogating Edward after the

murder, it is shown that she is clearly the person in charge of their

relationship since she knows how to manipulate Edward. The relationship between

Edward and his mother is not an example of an ideal male-female relationship, or

a mother-son relationship, since both parties do not show respect towards the

other. This is especially highlighted when Edward?s mother asks Edward what he

will leave for her since he has to flee his homeland in order to save himself.

To this question Edward replies ?The curse of hell frae me shall ye beir, sic

counseils ye gave to me O.? Additionally, because of the troubled relationship

Edward has with his mother, Edward appears to treat other females, such as his

wife, with the same lack of respect he shows toward his mother. When Edward?s

mother asks him what he will leave behind for his children and wife, Edward

replies nothing since the world is large enough for them to beg through life

(line 46). The ballad ?Bonny Barbara Allan? presents a male-female

relationship that does not work primarily because of the stubbornness and

demands of the parties involved. The relationship between Sir John Graeme and

Barbara Allan can be characterized as stubborn since both of them are

headstrong, although Sir Graeme a little less so since he is dying. Barbara

Allan is portrayed as being more headstrong because she refuses to acknowledge

the fact that Sir Graeme is dying for her love. This is because Barbara Allan is

still mad at Sir Graeme for a past incident, where Sir Graeme slighted her at a

tavern (lines 13-16 and lines 18-20). Although Sir Graeme and Barbara Allan do

not see eye to eye, their relationship is the closest among those of the three

ballads to be representative of at least a ?normal? male-female

relationship, even if not of an ideal one. Although Barbara Allan does not

proclaim her love for Sir Graeme as Sir Graeme did for her, Sir Graeme still

tells his friends to ?be kind to Barbara Allan? (line 24). Even though Sir

Graeme slighted Barbara Allan in the past, Barbara Allan tells her mother to fix

her coffin since ?my love died for me to-day, I?ll die for him to-morrow?

(lines 35-36). These actions show that both of them did respect, and probably

love each other, even if both of them, especially Barbara Allan, were reluctant

in showing each other how they felt about one another. Among the three

relationships, the relationship between Lord Arlen and his wife, from the ballad

?Mattie Groves?, is the one least like an ideal male-female relationship

because of the high level of deception and patriarchy their relationship

involves. The relationship between Lord Arlen and his wife contains deception

since Lord Arlen?s wife is sleeping with Mattie Groves, despite the fact she

is married. Furthermore, Lord Arlen?s wife promises Mattie Groves that Lord

Arlen will not learn about him since she promises to keep him ?out of sight?

(line 22). The relationship between Lord Arlen and his wife can be characterized

as patriarchal through Lord Arlen?s actions and words. Lord Arlen treats his

wife as his property and not as a person. Thus, he tries to make decisions for

her all the time, which is not always appreciated by his wife (lines 70-75).

Although none of the aforementioned ballads contain relationships that are

representative of an ideal male-female relationship, each of these ballads are

effective in portraying the arguments of both parties involved. By doing so, it

becomes easier for the reader to distinguish between the rights and wrongs of a

relationship and to identify what type of values the people of that time period

held or should have held.