Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Andrea Harbin, Ph.D.

Abstract

Designated male and female gender roles have created a certain set of expectations that shape the lives of men and women. Although there are benefits and drawbacks for each of the sexes as a result of these sets of rules, males have unquestionably seen themselves the beneficiaries throughout the course of history far more often than their female counterparts. I would argue, however, that chivalric codes, behaviors ascribed to men of the knightly class in the Middle Ages, are confusing and even contradictory for their subjects, thus negating some of the advantage typically granted by virtue of being a male. This paper posits that these codes truncated the advantage that certain male characters received due to gender inequality, by creating a masculine/feminine dichotomy among men. I intend on examining two major Medieval themes appearing across three texts of the time to illustrate this dichotomy; the amorphous concepts of rape and shamfastnesse.

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