Willobie His Avisa


Avisa "The Bird Not Seen"

Exempla in bono and malo

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Exempla in bono and malo
The author of Willobie his Avisa must have been familiar with the medieval satires of Walter Map. Because the layout of the introduction is exactly like Map' satires. Walter Map's satires were typically full of woman hating invective. I think that Willobie his Avisa is also an example of misogynistic literature. In the introduction to WHA sets of chaste women from antiquity (exempla in bono) ( virtuous women) are contrasted against unchaste biblical women .(exempla in malo) (harmful women) Then a mythological chaste goddess (Pallas Athena) is contrasted against an unchaste goddess, (Venus) . Effectively what this is saying is that true chastity is only seen in dead historical women or in mythological women .Then finally an ironic and false Rara Avis is introduced into the argument that is supposed to "disprove" this argument and show that a chaste woman can still be found. In Willobie His Avisa the ironic and false Rara Avis is Avisa herself. This type of layout follows EXACTLY the typical layout and argument style of the misogynistic medieval satires and is powerful evidence that Willobie His Avisa is itself a misogynistic satire whose central argument is that true chastity is seen in no woman least of all in Avisa.
Posted on November 7, 2010 Full Size| Slideshow