Castiglione The Book of the Courtier
Uploaded by jazzy321 on Oct 26, 2011
This paper examines Castiglione’s observations of Queen Alexandra and a peasant girl from Gazuolo, and relates them to the debate about women in Book III. (4+ pages; 1 source; MLA citation style.
Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier is a sort of guide to the qualities expected of ladies and gentlemen of the court. Book III of the work is a long discourse on the proper station of the court ladies. The book is similar to Plato’s Discourses, in that it takes the form of a series of speeches that friends make to one another at a gathering.
This paper examines Castiglione’s remarks about Alexandra and the peasant girl of Gazuolo, and relates them to the debate about women that is the subject of the book.
The conversation begins generally, but then Sir Frederick begins to discuss Persia, and the place of women at the court. Lord Gaspar says that the rules that apply to the courtier should also apply to the woman; Lord Julian disagrees.
This leads to the Duchess’s comment that perhaps Lord Julian would like to tell the court about his “ideal woman.” He responds that he will speak his mind, but “with verie great doubt to satisfie.” (PG).
He then begins a long discourse about the nature of women as he perceives them—and as he prefers them. He says that he will describe this woman, and then, in the manner of Pygmalion, “take her as mine owne.” (PG). Lord Julian has very definite ideas of what activities and beliefs are “suitable” for women, and finds that these things are very different from those that are “suitable” for men. He believes it is “seemlye” for men to exhibit “manlinesse”, but a woman should show a “tenderness, soft and mild, with a kinde of womanlie sweetnes in everye gesture…” so that there is never any possibility that she will exhibit the slightest manly characteristics. (PG).
He continues in this manner, stating that women should be beautiful, circumspect in their actions so that no one will have cause to gossip about them, that they should “order” the houses of their husbands and children, etc. Finally he says that above all other things, women that live at Court should be well-spoken, honest, well-mannered, witty and good.
Lord Gaspar goes even further, saying that men are perfect and that when a woman is born,...