The Book of the Coty of Ladies was authored by Christine de Pizan which was originally written in French but later translated to English. In this book, Christine de Pizan uses the Latin style conventions and syntax with the French prose. The author creates an allegorical city of ladies in this book in order to respond to Jean de Meun’s work Roman de la Rose. Christine de Pizan collects a host of famous ladies who are housed in the city of ladies. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the character of Christine de Pizan from this book.
Christine de Pizan is the protagonist in the play. At the beginning of the play, Christine de Pizan makes the readers aware of her intelligence and the fact that she loves reading books. She states that she devotes time to read books and this has developed into a habit within her. It is through her intelligence that she understands that she needs to establish credibility on the mind of the readers. During her studies, she is depressed because she feels that many writers and philosophers of her time profile women to be inferior to men. This shows that Christine de Pizan is a feminist who believes that there should not be a gap between men and women (Wagner 69). Christine de Pizan is then visited by three sisters who encourage her and inform her that God loves women the same way he loves men. The interaction and talk that she has with these sisters is really encouraging and refreshing to Christine de Pizan that she bows down before them. This is a depiction of the character of humility that Christine de Pizan had. It is through her humility that she accepts that other people have ideas and concepts which are applicable and can help the society.
Christine de Pizan’s other major character is that she is a self-doubter. As has been mentioned, the three sisters offer a lot of encouragement to Christine de Pizan. Christine has indulged in a lot of reading and cannot dismiss the opinions of the male writers. She states that while examining her character as a natural woman she considers other women princesses. However, Christine de Pizan having been raised in a male dominant society has the weight of male domination over her shoulders. Her self-doubt makes her state that no person should be considered lesser because of their gender. This then forms part of the thesis of the book. She desires to find goodness and beauty in womanhood. This confirms that she is a feminist and wants the society to redefine the issue of woman beauty in order to reduce the pressure that has been put on women by the stereotypical definition of beauty. Christine de Pizan uses the three characters of Reason, Rectitude and Justice to advance her theme within this story.
The third character trait that can be seen from Christine de Pizan is that she is analytical and problem-solving. Christine de Pizan understood the different challenges and problems that women were facing during that time. She devised a strategy of motivating the women in order for them to learn from the other women. For example, in the book she provides details of other great women who have existed throughout history. She is also careful to ensure that her statements come from the mouths of the three ladies: Reason, Rectitude and Justice. In this case, she remains very humble and takes a low profile in the play. She also informs her readers to be humble and patient in order to receive God’s love and blessings (3.19.3). Christine de Pizan informs the female readers not to scorn being controlled by their husbands in their families as it times it may not be good for humans to be independent (3.19.2). This statement shows that Christine de Pizan is religious. She understands the Bible and would like to implement the Biblical teaching of family life. Even though she is encouraging and empowering the women, she is trying to be careful to do so within the confines of Christian walk. She quotes the Bible and asserts the reason why individuals should be humble and patient. The statement also shows that Christine appreciates the traditional role of men and women in the society. Her intelligence has made her understand that if women are taught not to be respectful to their husbands, then this may lead to a moral decadence. Her objective is to ensure provision of education opportunities to women so that women can be considered as moral beings by men. It is through education that women can find opportunities through which they can effectively compete with men. This can work to prevent direct physical confrontation such as domestic abuse and violence.
Reading the book reveals that there is a definite pattern that is followed throughout the book. That is, Christine introduces a stereotype. One of the fictional characters Reason, Rectitude and Justice refutes the stereotype and provide examples to show that the stereotype is not true. This dialogue shows how Christine de Pizan is orderly in her thoughts and the manner in which she expresses these thoughts. She uses a structured and ordered fashion to express herself. Christine de Pizan was writing in the 1400s and through her intelligence she guards herself from using radical statements. She is strategic and wants to achieve progress or change in stages in order for this change to be sustainable.
- De Pizan, Christine. The Book of the City of Ladies. 1405. Trans. Rosalind Brown-Grant. Penguin, 1999.
- Wagner, Jill E. “Christine de Pizan’s City of Ladies: A Monumental (Re)Construction of, by, and for Women of All Time.” MFF, vol. 44, no. 1, 2008, 69-80.