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An Analysis Of Feminist Articles

1173 words - 5 pages

Kinoshita, Sharon. "Cherchez la Femme: Feminist Criticism and Marie de France's `Lai de Lanval'." Romance Notes 34.3 (1994): 263-73.


In the article, "Cherchez la Femme: Feminist Criticism and Marie de France's `Lai de Lanval'," Sharon Kinoshita examines Marie de France's "Lanval" and its feminist implications. She explores three critical essays that discuss the feminism revealed in the Lais of Marie de France and the differing views represented in each criticism. After discussing these interpretations Kinoshita retells "Lanval" and reveals her own opinion. Through her analysis of the three critical essays and her breakdown of "Lanval" Kinoshita argues Marie's feminism is not revealed through her portrayal of strong female characters, but instead through the titular male character's rejection of the code of chivalry.

Kinoshita begins the article by examining critical essays by William S. Woods, Charles Huchet and Michelle Freeman. Each critic has a different interpretation on what aspects of her writing make Marie de France a feminist writer. In his article, "Femininity in the Lais of Marie de France," Woods focuses on Marie's writing style and her "evident [femininity] in every aspect of the text," (qtd. in Kinoshita 263). Woods argues Marie de France's feminine voice is apparent in her writing style and is "emphasized by repetition, exaggeration, diminutives and excessively detailed descriptions," (Kinoshita 263). Kinoshita explains Woods' stereotypical views have a lot to do with the year in which the article was written, the 1950s.

Different from Woods' 1950s view of femininity, Charles Huchet's 1981 article compares Marie's lais to other works of the times. He suggests feminism is not present in her words, but in her writing style and "in strategically rewriting desire [...] in ways that emphasize the erasure of sexual difference and the fusion of divisions" (Kinoshita 264). Kinoshita explains this difference in beliefs between Woods and Huchet is most likely because the essays were written in different time periods.

Michelle Freeman wrote an article in 1984, the same decade as Huchet. Kinoshita makes the comparison between Huchet and Freeman. Like Huchet, Freeman compares Marie's works with the works of her contemporaries. Conversely, unlike Huchet, Freeman believes the feminist aspect of Marie's works is revealed in "her `poetics of silence,' her strategic deployment of understatement and elision," (Kinoshita 264). While in some areas Freeman's article is like that of Huchet, it also has similarities to William S. Wood's article. Kinoshita explains, "Like woods [...] Freeman oscillates between seeing Marie's `poetics of silence' as a limited individualized or personal thematics and as a distinctly feminine mode of writing," (qtd. in Kinoshita 264). Unlike Woods, who sees Marie as "having a love for the forceful, the superlative, the detailed and the excess, [Freeman] finds exactly the opposite,"...

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