Gender and Violence in the Northern French Farce

Gender and Violence in the Northern French Farce

Hovland, Deborah (SUNY College at Buffalo)

Medieval Feminist Forum, 21, no. 1 (1996):23-26


If asked to give a thumbnail sketch of the trickster plays written in Normandy, Ile-de- France, and Picardy between 1450 and 1550, when the farce was at its most popular, most literary specialists would probably allude to the violent nature of the genre, as well as its broad humor and stereotypical characters and situations. While students of the farce have traditionally considered this genre to be purely ludic, in spite of the moralized conclusions terminating most of these plays, farce violence is by no means purely gratuitous, even if not “politically correct” by today’s standards. Instead, the violence in the medieval and early modern trickster drama performs a moralizing function, punishing behaviours which deviated from contemporary social norms, such as adultery and other sexual misbehaviors, thievery, wifely dominance, and husbandly submission.

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