No Ordinary Pilgrim: Margery Kempe and Her Quest for Validation, Authority, and Unique Identity
Date of Award
Kempe, Margery, approximately 1373-, Lacan, Jacques, 1901-1981, Pilgrims and pilgrimages in literature, English literature -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism, Kempe pilgrimage movement medieval Lacan
Movement in literature is a technique used by authors to uncover richer and deeper meaning which cannot be expressed in mere words. Margery Kempe autobiographer, employed movement both literally and figuratively through her pilgrimages to establish her identity as saintly, exceptional, and authoritative. Margery's overarching desire to create this persona for herself is examined through her life's writing, The Book of Margery Kempe. Her Book is studied dually in this thesis, as a treatise on the use of both physical movement and written movement, called the movement/writing model, to understand a woman who possessed extraordinary insight in how to employ the most validating tool of late medieval England, the pilgrimage, to establish herself as chosen. Margery's movement/writing model is further explored by using Jacque Lacan's theories of the gaze and the real. Using Lacan's theories, Margery's textual utilization of the pilgrimage as a promoting language can be better appreciated. Through these three aspect : movement, writing, and reader focus, Margery's desire to establish herself as a unique, exceptional, and holy woman of her time is better understood, especially considering late medieval constraints. Ultimately, Margery's pride coupled with her devout religiousness was crucial in her decision to choose the pilgrimage to establish herself as an authoritative voice although in doing so she often pushed the bounds of accepted propriety. Margery's fervent commitment to be perceived as uniquely holy, not only in the eyes of God but also her community, was a challenge she embraced with an honest straight-forward approach of pilgrim/writer
Barfoot, Alice A., "No Ordinary Pilgrim: Margery Kempe and Her Quest for Validation, Authority, and Unique Identity" (2013). ETD Archive. 687.