By Catherine L. White
Medieval Feminist Forum, Vol.27 (1997)
Introduction: A feminist perspective on French literature of the Middle Ages, if imbued with historical relativity, allows twentieth-century readers, especially women readers, to focus on the relationship between female protagonists and their fathers. Three works are particularly good subjects for such a study: Heldris of Cornwall’s Le Roman de Silence, Chretien de Troyes’ Erec et Enide and Christine de Pizan’s Le Livre de la Cite des Dames. The following is a discussion of a work in progress on the theme of daughters and fathers as illustrated in these three works.
The significance of fathers with regard to their adult daughters seems to be composed of two dominant facets: protection and oppression. The price the women pay for this protection, is, ultimately, the elimination of their own power. The father is the ultimate source of all social determinations, and therefore of all aspects of female existence. One might go so far as to say that the father is the original misogynist.