Posted at July 29, 2020

Wife’s Lament and Margery Kempe 2

Unlike Margery Kempe who expressed a high desire to separate from her husband and live a celibate life, the Wife in The Wife`s Lament was forced to accept celibacy after her isolation in the earth cave. Margery`s choice to celibate was a conscious one. While practicing her celibacy, Margery could still interact with her husband and family. She even persuaded her husband to join her in the vow of Chasity. The extremely high desire for celibacy by Margery is accompanied by psychology and a story of another man apart from her husband who wanted to have sexual relations with her. Unlike the wife in the Wife`s Lament, becoming celibate by Margery happened after they had given birth to 14 children that they had agreed on with her husband. After fulfilling the agreement between her and her husband, Margery became very devoted to her faith. She still believed in God even after her business failed. Margery tried as much as possible to resist her desires for her husband and was able to stop having sex with him. 

Like the wife in the Wife`s Lament, Margery was a speaker who mainly preached the word of God. Margery was one of the influential speakers by then in a society where most of the religious hierarchies were controlled and led by men. In several different societies, the majority of the women stayed at home as wives and mothers. But the speaker in the Wife`s lament and Margery Kempe kept on moving. Both the Wife from the Wife`s Lament and Margery Kempe are Medieval personalities who exhibited exile. They were subjected to punishment and manifested their exile experiences in a specific way. 

Women in Anglo-Saxon societies assumed specific roles in their societies. One of the most important roles played by women in Anglo-Saxon societies was being a peace-weaver. This meant a woman who was married to make peace between different clans. The wife`s lament entails a woman who was a peace-weaver. The wife in The Wife`s Lament separated with her husband against her will. She was lonely and unhappy. She was abandoned by her husband after he committed murder. For example, the wife in the Wife`s Lament was a peace-weaver who said in her words “I must suffer the feud of my much beloved” This means that the narrator suffers the pain of being left by her husband after marrying in a warring tribe to resolve a fraud. Even though a peace-weaver is meant to bring peace between worrying tribes, this is not always the case. Unlike women in medieval societies, women in Anglo-Saxon were memory keepers. They were referred to as memory keepers because they did not fight as they were always left behind to bury and mourn for the dead ones, and were left with the memories of the people they buried. They lived with this heavy burden. Although much of the inequalities that existed in medieval societies were mainly brought about by religious beliefs, most of the mobility was provided by the church. For example, Margery Kempe utilized the cloistered life to attain education and influence in her society. Usually, women were not given the opportunity to occupy high positions in the church. But still, Margery remained with her strong devotion towards God.


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