Abelard And Heloise


Abelard and Heloise were 12th century lovers whose story inspires many and at the same time highlighted some of the problems about marriage in the era. Heloise was a beautiful and gifted girl who lived in Paris. Her uncle’s, desire, Fulbert was for her to get the best education, and hence employed Abelard, the best French philosopher at the time, to teach her. They soon fell in love and defied the law that forbad such a relationship. They also went against the expectations of the church and the society by engaging in a sexual relationship and finally getting pregnant. Though they finally get secretly married, the uncle managed to separate them by attacking Abelard. As it will be proven in the essay, through the letters of Abelard and Heloise it is clear that there are conflicting views on the subject of morality in the 12th century.

Defining Morality


Foremost, Abelard notes that God values abstinence amongst women. Though Heloise agrees to the fact, she adds that virginity of flesh as not important as the virginity of soul. Abelard also indicates that some of the virgins who were proud of remaining pure yet their thoughts were lustful. This shows that there was hypocrisy in the way the society and religious people viewed virginity amongst women. Harsh words and punishments were given to the people who did not abstain yet no punishment was given to the lustful people. Indeed, the couple agreed that they should be punished for their actions. Their uncle also punishes Abelard by attacking and humiliating him, which lead to the separation of the couple.

Fear of the Society


It is also clear that people were more concerned about societal acceptance than the teachings of the church. In her writing, Heloise felt that those who did not offend the society would be praised. Yet, they may have offended God in their actions and deserved punishment. Initially, Heloise opposed the secret marriage because she felt that Abelard would go through shame and ridicule.

In the end, the couple does not unite after their painful separation because of the fear of opposition by the society. They, however, agree that their love would remain strong. All these actions indicate that though they knew that God would punish them for their deeds, their major concern was what the society would say. Clearly, the story of Abelard and Heloise is an indication that the society and the church could not agree on the idea of morality.

 

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