Volume 25, Issue 2, 2004

An Old French Romance and its Adaptations

Gretchen Mieszkowski
Pages 181-195

Urake and the Gender Roles of Partonope of Blois

This paper is concerned with the inverted gender roles portrayed in the Middle English Partonope of Blois, and the part played by Urake in realigning them. The relationship between hero and heroine begins with Partonope in a female passive role as a "kept man," and Melior in a male dominating role as a sexually self-assured woman who chooses the man she wants and controls him. Urake, one of the most unusually interventionistic of romance go-betweens, saves Partonope's life and prepares him, both physically and psychologically, to assume his position as the triumphal hero; she also torments Melior into accepting a less controlling form of love more suitable for a medieval woman. In this way the conventional ending to the romance is enhanced by the satisfaction of seeing the inverted gender roles of hero and heroine put to rights