MaleFemale Relationships Found in Medieval Ballads Essay

This essay has a total of 938 words and 4 pages.

MaleFemale Relationships Found in Medieval Ballads

ESSAY: Male-Female Relationships Found in Medieval Ballads

There are many medieval ballads that contain male-female relationships. However, the
ballads “Edward”, “Bonny Barbara Allen”, and “Mattie Groves” stand out because they all
contain atypical male-female relationships. The similarities the three ballads share in
their male-female relationships are: 1) there is always a conflict between the male and
the female and 2) none of these relationships are representative of the ideal male-female
relationship or marriage.

Although the male-female relationship in the ballad “Edward” revolves around a mother and
a son, their relationship is just as convoluted as the ones found in the other ballads.
Edward and his mother have a tense and stormy relationship, which is highlighted through
their conversations and interactions with each other. Edward’s tenseness towards his
mother is shown through his replies to his mother’s question “why dois your brand sae drap
wi bluid?” Instead of telling her the truth, Edward is at first hesitant and lies to his
mother by saying the blood on his sword is from hawk, and then says it is actually from
his horse. Eventually Edward cracks due to his feelings of guilt and admits to his mother
that he actually killed his father (line 21). Expecting to find at least some sympathy
and advice from his mother, since it was the mother who gave Edward the idea of killing
his father, Edward, instead, is bombarded by a series of questions from his mother. These
questions make Edward angry, especially since one of them

is how is Edward going to show penance for his actions (line 25)? Even though it is
Edward’s mother who gives Edward the idea of murdering his father, by interrogating Edward
after the murder, it is shown that she is clearly the person in charge of their
relationship since she knows how to manipulate Edward. The relationship between Edward and
his mother is not an example of an ideal male-female relationship, or a mother-son
relationship, since both parties do not show respect towards the other. This is
especially highlighted when Edward’s mother asks Edward what he will leave for her since
he has to flee his homeland in order to save himself. To this question Edward replies
“The curse of hell frae me shall ye beir, sic counseils ye gave to me O.” Additionally,
because of the troubled relationship Edward has with his mother, Edward appears to treat
other females, such as his wife, with the same lack of respect he shows toward his mother.
When Edward’s mother asks him what he will leave behind for his children and wife, Edward
replies nothing since the world is large enough for them to beg through life (line 46).

The ballad “Bonny Barbara Allan” presents a male-female relationship that does not work
primarily because of the stubbornness and demands of the parties involved. The
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