The Role Of Women In The Song — страница 2

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women, elderly and all other pagan people who are not warriors, one supplied the readers with Bramimonde. But perhaps she is more than that. The text tells of many male pagan warriors who enter into the story only to fall in battle; she is the sole constant pagan character. In laisse 195 she laments: ?What will become of me, miserable wretch?/O, woe is me that I have no one to kill me.? It is easy to interpret this statement as: ?me? a.k.a. : The Pagan, a.k.a.: a ?miserable wretch? who is better off dead. Her attitude changes abruptly when the pagan emir and his army arrive on the scene. It is Bramimonde who brings the emir to her husband to plan the second attack. It is Bramimonde who directs the whole of pagandom to the Franks: ?He need not go so far!/You will find the Franks

closer to where we are;?(laisse 196). Even when she learns that the Arabs have been defeated, she offers up one last prayer to her gods in laisse 270: ??Help us Muhammad!/O, noble king, now our men are vanquished;/the emir is slain with such great shame.?? Although the words ?Muhammad,? ?vanquished,? ?slain? and ?great shame? are grouped together, Bramimonde appears to be sincere in her request, as though she will attempt one more show of loyalty to the deities that ?God never loved? that is in effect a last resort to stave off the ?great shame.? The lie of her religion is made evident abruptly, however; no sooner does the prayer to Muhammad leave her lips than the last significant male pagan figure, her husband King Marsile, dies. With the emir and Marsile gone, Bramimonde is

paganism by laisse 271. All of Bramimonde?s behavioral transitions can be seen as representative of the pagan behavioral transitions as a whole. By associating the pagans with frequent mood swings, at one moment crying and cursing their gods, the next moment reassured and planning the destruction of the Franks, paganism as a whole is effeminized. And so, being defeated once again, Bramimonde surrenders in laisse 271–i.e. the pagans surrender to the Christians. ?Fierce is the king with the hoary-white beard [Charles and the Christians]/And Bramimonde [the pagans] surrendered the towers to him.? The fact that her role does not end with that of her male counterparts says much about her significance in this text. The King is dead. The emir is dead. Yet, Bramimonde lives on. Who is

the real pagan figurehead in this text? It continues as: ?More than a hundred thousand [Saracens] are baptized/True Christians, with the exception of the queen./She will be taken as a captive to fair France;/The king wishes her to be a convert through love.? It is not enough for Charlemagne to have vanquished Saragossa, the Queen must now be delivered to France and converted to Christianity. In this, the role of Bramimonde completes another of the Song of Roland?s token symmetries. Before the Queen is actually converted, the text describes the punishment of Ganelon, who had ?converted? in the opposite direction. After the traitor is put to a violent, painful death in the streets of the town, Bramimonde becomes the star of another important public ceremony: ?There they baptize the

Queen of Spain./They found for her the name of Juliana;/She is a Christian, convinced of the truth.? The victory at Saragossa was incomplete until now. Remember that at this point Bramimonde is ?the pagans,? and Ganelon, Bramimonde?s foil, who sold his soul in betraying his country and the Christian God, is now dead. ?When the emperor has completed his justice/And appeased his great anger,/He has Bramimonde Christened.? Thus, both Bramimonde?s first and last appearances complete vital symmetries in the text. At one point, I believed that Bramimonde was the strongest of the woman characters because she seemed to be independent from the men. This in contrast to Aude, Roland?s fiancee and the second principle female figure in the Song of Roland, who was entirely dependent upon her

betrothed. With Roland gone from the text, Aude was gone from the text: she died immediately upon hearing that he had not survived the battle at Roncesvalles. But I have since come to understand that the significance of Bramimonde?s character is not that she is independent from her male counterparts, but just that she, unlike Aude, is able to more easily substitute one man for another–the emir for King Marsile, Charles for the emir; just as she does with switching religions–Christianity for paganism. Queen Bramimonde plays a vital role in the Song of Roland. She participates indispensably in the intricacies of symmetry within the tale itself. Additionally, the fact that she survives all of the leading male pagans suggests that she is the true pagan figurehead, and it is only