Masculine and Feminine Heroic Plots

Heroic tales and legends of the Middle Ages are now thought to have been completely masculine. However, it would be wrong to consider all works of this genre identical as long as there existed different target audiences who wanted different characters. For instance, the French epic The Song of Roland is inherently male oriented, and story of Lancelot was most probably expected to attract women above all.

Roland personifies the so-called feudal nobility associated with the honor of a warrior that is a part of the traditionally male culture. He is outstandingly brave, loyal, and dedicated to his mission of heroic life and death. In addition, one of the strongest motifs in The Song of Roland is soldier comradeship, while women and relationships with them play no role. Simply put, the title character was an example of knightly behavior for Medieval aristocracy to follow.

Lancelot, who was created in the same age, is a knight as well, but devotes himself to his beloved, which was the dream of an average woman in patriarchy. He is always ready to fight for her honor and sacrifice himself for her sake. In one concern, selflessness is one of the key concepts the Medieval idea of nobility was based on. By contrast, Lancelot is sometimes bound to neglect the knight morality, for example, travel in a wagon, which was considered a shame. His readiness to depart from the code for rescuing a woman could have made him less attractive for male audience while more appealing for females.

To summarize, the variety of characters present in Medieval heroic epic shows that this genre of literature did not purely target men. Some plots did, including The Song of Roland that exemplifies knighthood. Along with that, female-oriented stories like the one of Lancelot existed as well, although their values sometimes conflicted with those of more masculine tales in moral terms.

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