Title Background

Gender Personified Personification Gendered, Personification Gendered, and the Body Figuralized in <i>Piers Plowman</i>

Gender Personified Personification Gendered, Personification Gendered, and the Body Figuralized in Piers Plowman

An application to PPl of principles developed in his article “Personification’s Gender” (Rhetorica 16 [1998]: 149-79). Both Latin grammar and semiological deep structures associated with the Genesis myth produce female personified characters which advertise to readers the loquacious effects of characterization achieved through the trope of prosopopeia. The body of woman becomes a figure for figuration itself. L’s experimental gender shifting among personified characters finds its ultimate expression in the figure of Anima, who appears first in B.9 as the romantic object of male desire, then reappears in passus 15 as a male entity, “oon wi#outen tonge and tee#.” The description can be read as a catachresis for the human vagina, offering an ironic parallel between Anima as the Quickener of Bodies and the organ which gives life to nascent human bodies. Mede functions as the structural complement to Anima: lacking corporeal solidity or presence, she is emblematic of allegory’s pure exterior.

Volume

YLS 12 (1998): 65-96.

Author

Paxson, James J.