While it is true that medieval men dominated discourse, women’s voices are hardly absent from late Middle English literature. Their range is arguably as variegated and modulated as the voices of men. Think of the seductive teasing of the Lady in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the many moods of Chaucer’s Criseyde, the Pearl-maiden’s chiding, Alison’s ‘tee-hee’ and Lady Meed’s whining. These are male-authored, fictional female characters whose voices are so diverse because they inhabit the multiple genres available to male writers, and thus can run the gamut from allegorical figures to fabliau-wives. But what happens when women voice themselves, or at least seem to, when the narrator’s subjectivity is gendered female? What kinds of women get to speak themselves, and what do they say?
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