Familial Discourses In The Book Of Margery Kempe

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How can it be possible for a mother to simply ignore the existence of her children and keep on living mindfully? A look at The Book of Margery Kempe offers a glimpse into the mind of such a woman. While the book depicts Kempe as an unyielding and devote mystic, there is only brief discussion of her role as a mother. Despite giving birth to fourteen children throughout her life, her story occurs almost entirely outside of her family. Considering the role of medieval motherhood, her case would be rather uncommon. A near death experience with her first child, however, takes precedence in the early stages of the book. Due to this life threatening occurrence associated with the birth of her first child, Margery Kempe’s further actions suggest her …show more content…
Atkinson identifies that while Kempe discusses the births of some of her children, she never names or speaks specifically of the children individually (with the exception of one son) (231). Kempe’s failure to recognize her offspring by name offers some insight into her mindset. By not identifying each child individually, she may be repressing guilt that she has for not appropriately taking responsibility for her role as a mother. In “Familial Discourses in The Book of Margery Kempe: Blyssed Be the Wombe That the Bar and the Tetys That Yag the Sowkyn”, Raphaela Sophia Rohrhofer discusses that medieval parents were in fact quite attached to their children (116). Kempe’s denial of her children’s humanity exhibits her dissimilarity from the norm of motherhood. By not providing any detail or sustenance, Kempe is dehumanizing and rejecting the existence of such human beings. Once again, by strictly refusing to acknowledge them, Kempe diverges from the traditional sentiments that a mother would have for her …show more content…
In order to face these emotions, Kempe resorts to her mystical marriage. Without her mystical marriage, Kempe would not be able to completely relieve herself of her title and role as a mother; however it cannot entirely explain her desertion of her children. While her focus on her relationship with Christ occupies much of her thoughts and time, she still employs denial and avoidance to rid herself of motherhood. With fourteen children, Kempe surprisingly took part in little to no mothering at all. Straying from the typical role of the women in medieval families, Kempe ultimately depicts her selfhood and personal fulfillment as unattainable under such a role; therefore, her emotional defenses became essential to her livelihood and repression of

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