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Imagining Judith: An Examination Of Judith's Representation In The Middle English Metrical Paraphrase Of The Old Testament

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Imagining Judith: An Examination Of Judith's Representation In The Middle English Metrical Paraphrase Of The Old Testament

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Title: Imagining Judith: An Examination Of Judith's Representation In The Middle English Metrical Paraphrase Of The Old Testament
Author: Vaughn, Terri
Abstract: The poet-paraphraser of The Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament (MEMPOT) imagines Judith and other women biblical characters as courtly ladies, whose performance and dress reflect the values and customs of literary courtesy, as well as the poet's interpretation of Christian morality. Judith's narrative in particular resonates with the positive views accorded to women by some medieval romance texts and yet supersedes these by positioning Judith as mobile-able to move independently within the world of men and aggressively verbal commanding her fellow Hebrews and advising the Assyrian general. These characteristics go beyond the mobility and verbal acuity of Judith in biblical tradition, where Judith is defined more clearly as subordinate to masculine society through an emphasis on her widowhood and chastity. Bakhtinian analysis indicates that the treatment of Judith in MEMPOT is a product of heteroglossia the blending of familiar ideolanguages that occurs within each person's speech and writing. In lieu of repeating the authoritarian discourse associated with the patriarchal image of Judith, the MEMPOT poet has allowed his/her own internally persuasive discourse to produce a female hero that reflects both the poet's openness to gender equality and insistence on the hierarchies of social estate. The poet accomplishes this altered image of Judith through details of dress and courtly manners, as well as a carnivalesque portrait of her superior "woman's wit" adding to the biblical account by presenting her correcting the male elders in the temple, digging a well to provide water for her community, and directing the people to apportion the spoils of war to men and their wives.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/9674
Date: 2012-04-20

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