The Birth of Equality and the Death of Chivalry
"...And now it's time for girls on trampolines!" Adam Corolla of The Man Show shouts at the end of the insipid program supposedly providing men with "manly" entertainment; "We give men what they want to see." This show involves beer guzzling at its best, childish antics involving midgets and the degradation of women in many forms. It seems as though chivalry may truly have died. In the woman's on-going quest for equality, the respect and reverence they were once treated with has changed.
Technically chivalry is defined as the moral code of knights in medieval times i.e.: dignity, courtesy, bravery, generosity, and gallantry. This was the manner of respect in which women were to be treated, and a knight was to uphold the code always. One can imagine courtly ladies strolling through the court in fine gowns, and having a chivalrous knight lay his cloak over a muddy patch so the ladies shan't muss their shoes. These days should some kind man stand for an extra second at a door to keep it open for an approaching woman, she may be amazed at this display of courtesy.
Hand on door, or cloak in mud, this is and was respectively, the mark of a refined man. "The self-conscious command of fine manners, whether the proper way of hunting, dressing, addressing a superior, or wooing a lady, became a key mark of an aristocrat"(20). In literature, "Despite the limitations of their actual power, women were the focus, often the worshiped focus, of much of the best imaginative literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries..."(18). Though chivalry is connected with the medieval times, Edmund Spencer wrote of a chivalrous knight in The Red Crosse Knight of The Faerie Queene.
Edmund Spencer lived during the height of the renaissance. Common men were starting to be able to rise up in class, it wasn't exactly necessary any longer to be born into the upper-crust; with hard work and education any man could be there. People also began slowly to realize that women could be capable of reason as well as men.
"Ancient philosophy and medieval theology had insisted that womankind was essentially and naturally different from mankind...But early modern life was changing in this respect too. Contemporary treatises devoted to pro-woman argument or the defense of womankind drew on evidence that supported a revolution in ideas of sex and gender" (374). Perhaps this new way of thinking had something to do with the fact that England prospered under the governing of Elizabeth. If a woman could rule the country, maybe there was more to those females than originally thought. Slowly the respect for women was beginning to change from that of admiring beauty from afar (while she stands on a cloak), to a respect for a woman who might have reason. Though Edmund Spencer still lingered in the old-fashioned chivalric way of thinking.
Spencer turned to the past with tales of knightly romance, and...