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Word Count: 1,471
The Role of Women in the Song of RolandWomen are not mentioned often in the Song of Roland They appear in only seventeenof almost three hundred laisses It is because they are included so rarely however that thewomen stand out amidst the throng of male characters and call attention to the areas of the textin which they appear One of the principle woman characters is Queen Bramimionde wife of thepagan King Marsile She plays an important role at the end of the text becoming by associationthe whole of pagandom and it is only through her that the French emperor Charlemagne canachieve a true victory over the SaracensThe first mention of women in the Song of Roland comes in laisse 23 when Ganelonspeaks to Charles I well know that I must go to SaragossaWhoever goes there cannot hope toreturnMoreover I have your sister as my wife In these lines Ganelon uses kinship as ameans to link himself to Charlemagne via the woman He is in effect communicating his lastwords to the emperor and being reluctant to perform the dangerous task set before him isattempting to evoke guilt in Charles A suitable paraphrase of the lines would be Rememberthat I am married to your sister whom you are now effectively making a widow Laisse 23 isnot only significant because it makes first mention of a woman but also because it is tied directlyThe pagan Queen first appears in laisse 50 Then Queen Bramimonde came forwardIlove you dearly lordshe said to GanelonFor my lord and his men hold you in very highesteemI shall send your wife two necklaces In this passage two women are mentioned theQueen promising rich gifts to the wife in exchange for the husbands treachery This passageimmediately stands out from those before it because it tells of a gift that is from woman towoman rather than a gift from one of the many pagan dukes to Ganelon Additionally laisse 50acts as the mirror image of
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