Chastity and Remarriage: Widows in Medieval England Essay

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During the medieval time period women had specific roles that usually categorized as the daughter, the mother, the sister, the wife—the one who bares all the struggles but still does not receive the same recognition as a man. They are solely recognized by their male counterparts identity—the wife of the man, the daughter of the man, and the mother of the man, etc. So what happens when they no longer have the male counterpart to rely on? What happens when they are no longer their father’s daughter but another man’s wife? And what happens when that man dies and the women has to face society under the title of a widow? What does her role in society become then and what is her title? What is expected of the widow? In certain medieval societies …show more content…
When a woman’s husband died in Medieval England society’s expectations of the woman dramatically changed. Now she was no longer someone’s wife, but a widow. A widow by definition is: a woman who has lost her husband by death. What does society expect from her now, now the woman is expected to revert back to her life as a maiden in a sense. However the only difference now, is that she is no longer pure, no longer virginal. Yet she is expected to suppress her urges that were arisen post marriage in order to remain societally acceptable; and by acceptable she was to live a life following the bible and not question the rule of man. “If medieval society pitied the lonely widow, it abhorred the merry one.” If widows showed too much interest in other males she was seen as a threat and was not viewed as virtuous by the church and society. She was seen as a wretched human, one that did not belong in such society, an uncontrollable animal like being. Once a woman could live in her boundaries after her husband died and either devoted her life to the church, her children, or living a lonely life she was deemed worthy of society.
Even so, there was still plenty of sympathy that was evoked for widows in this time period, people saw them as destitute and dependent on the kindness of strangers. French states that “The destitute widow had iconic status in the Middle Ages, promoted in part

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