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Lordship and LiteratureJohn Gower and the Politics of the Great Household$
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Elliot Kendall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542642

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542642.001.0001

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Women as Household Exchange in Genius's Tales

Women as Household Exchange in Genius's Tales

(p.132) 5 Women as Household Exchange in Genius's Tales
Lordship and Literature

Elliot Kendall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the exemplary narratives of Confessio Amantis and examines their household-based economics of power through the theme of the exchange of women. Interpretations of Gower's tales are contextualized by discussion of the politics of aristocratic marriage in the late 14th century. The representation of lordship and female will is considered in relation to various challenges to a ‘reciprocalist’ traffic in women, including female independence, rape, and incest. The chapter argues that Gower's tales sponsor a reciprocalist model of marriage exchange that is apparently non-coercive but securely governed by household, seigneurial interests. There are extended treatments of the tales of Rosiphelee, Jason and Medea, Apollonius of Tyre, Jephte's Daughter, and Alboin and Rosemund.

Keywords:   Alboin and Rosemund, Apollonius of Tyre, Confessio Amantis, exchange of women, incest, Jephte, marriage, Medea, Rosiphelee

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