In (Lack of) Defense of Patient Griselda

Brief History: This is a piece of European folklore that has been written down by Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, and other big wigs of the Middle Ages. The version I’m focusing on was retold by Charles Perrault, but they are all pretty much the same. The story is about a rich marquis who decides to marry a poor woman named Griselda (which would have been the only tragedy of her life had she not met her husband). He decides to test this sweet lady various times including insisting that their children are taken away to be killed. Griselda, who promised to obey him, allows him to take her kids without any fight. He then forces her to live in exile for a decade or a so before announcing that he is going to remarry. Why does he tell Griselda this? Because he wants her to be a maid at the feast, of course. And wouldn’t you know it? His new bride is their twelve year old daughter (most versions make Griselda ignorant of this fact). Griselda continues to keep her mouth shut during all of the awfulness, never complaining or objecting to how she’s been treated. At last, her husband decides that she is worthy in his eyes. He restores Griselda as his wife, reveals that their kids are alive, and they all get to live in luxury with him. Some reward.

Analysis: First of all I haaaaaaaate this story. HATE IT! Why am I covering it within this blog, you may ask? To share my hate. Embrace how irksome this tale is. Let it feed you. Let it help you rally for equality and against the powers that be, whether your fight is social, gender, or economic woes.

Blame it on the Victorians: You know the Victorians liked this story. They were all about a woman’s value being based around what their husbands deemed important. It’s strange that a society ruled by a queen was so closed minded. Anthony Trollope, one of the lesser known Victorian novelists to us Yanks, used the theme of Patient Griselda in one of his novels in order to make some thinly veiled social commentary.

Last thoughts: HATE IT!!! HATE IT, I SAY!!!

*If you want know any of the places where some of my research comes from, just contact me.

While I'm Being Rescued

                I was hanging over a pit of doom as a monstrous knight with a disgusting mole hair threatened me when someone broke through the door. Now, there are two knights, Sir Mole Hair versus the new contender. His armor is super shiny. It reminds me of the skim on the top of the slop that my neighbor feeds his pigs . . . Cripes. I need a better social life.

                The new knight is taking of his helmet. Whoops! Sorry. Her helmet. And that evil knight’s jaw just hit the floor.

                “Release your prisoner,” she demands.

                He is just laughing at her. Where is all that monologuing he was doing earlier?

                She looks at me and asks if I’m okay.

                My arms feel like they are going to fall off and I need a chamber pot. The snakes and toads under me are starting to get restless. If I struggle, I might fall in. “No! All month I keep getting kidnapped, eaten, and tricked! I’m sick of it! Why does this keep happening to me?”

                The evil knight is sneering at me. “Maybe it’s the way you dress?”

                The lady knight just unsheathed a sword and shouted. “That’s it! You die now!”

                The evil lord knight is doing the same. There is a lot of clanging. It’s not as exciting as I always thought a sword fight would be. I thought there would be back-flips and parrying. Where’s all the parrying? They just keep smacking the swords together and walking a few steps back in one direction.

                Another step. Another clang. Another step. Another clang. Yawn.

                Oh, I spoke too soon. The lady knight just ducked rather skillfully in that shiny armor and rammed her whole body into Sir Mole Hair’s torso. He did not see that coming, because he is down on the ground and . . . rolled right into the vat of toads and snakes. I didn’t know so many vipers would want to bite the same man at once. He’s getting all puffy and purple. He makes for a very ugly corpse.

                The lady knight carefully lowered me down. She really doesn’t seem too disconcerted by the bloated dead man so I guess I won’t bring it up.

                “Thanks.” I tell her while straightening my tunic and resting my arms.

                My gratitude surprises her. “You don't object to being rescued by a girl knight?”

                “Why would I? I'm being rescued. That's all that matters. I just wish you’d showed up earlier this month.”

                She’s blinking at me with the strangest expression. Maybe she’s starting at the scar on my neck. Should I tell her it’s the result of cuddles from a baby griffin? “You're not going to tell me to stop trying to take down the patriarchy?’

                “What’s patriarchy?”

                “It's a socioeconomic system designed by rich, white men meant to keep everyone else at a lower status.”

                “Did the patriarchy make me a peasant?”

                “Yes, feudalism is definitely a form of patriarchy.”

                I thought over her words long and hard. “Down with the patriarchy!”

                She sheaths her sword and collects her helmet. “Do you want to help me bring down the patriarchy?”

                “I don't know. I’m really tired. I just want to go home and lock my door.”
                “Do you at least want to help me throw rotten eggs that the lord sheriff’s house?”

                “Yeah, why not.”

                As she leads me from the dungeon, she turns and asks, “Not to be gross, but did you see the hair coming out of that guy’s mole?”