The True Woman

Son #1 is living with me at the moment and is renowned for his home-made cards. We don’t always understand them, nor can we often put them on display for fear of offence, but it is the thought that counts, right?

Today I was presented with such a masterpiece. I should explain that he is studying English & Scottish Literature and on the theme of duality at the moment. So my card has this pic on the front.

truewoman

If you can’t make out the poem here it is:

This horrible double-headed monster,
passing, does it not frighten you?
However, o great beast,
your two sides are often one.

Consider this infamous monster,
who not does hear any reason.
you will see that it is woman,
who is an Angel in Church and a devil at home.

It is all to do with a common belief in early modern Europe that women had a double nature, being simultaneously angels and demons. The depiction aslo reveals a second contemporary concern: one’s inability to tell from outer appearances a person’s inner nature. Such concerns were echoed in the period’s witchcraft craze, in which fear of women’s potential power to disrupt peace and order manifested itself in violent attacks against them.

Source: The True Woman. 17th c engraving. In A History of Women: Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, Davis and Farge.

And it was in purple. Bet you didn’t get one like it! Bless him.

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