While reading this piece by Lee Jobling I was quite intrigued with this focus of Pilate as a human interacting with extraordinary circumstances. Described in one instance as an evil man who meets his just end, and in another as he was right in his actions and decisions resulting in Christs death. The piece goes over the acts of Pilate throughout the during the Passion sequence of the York Mystery Plays and it is quite hard to get a grasp on just what this character is doing as he stays inconsistent in his actions. He claims Jesus must be crucified but when it comes down to it blames those who put Christ on the cross claiming it is they who have condemned Christ. Pilate is adamant in his ways of saying that there must be sufficient evidence in this trial against Christ and he tries to remain sympathetic to Jesus' plight. Furthermore Pilate shows the possibility of being saved by Christ himself when he summons the large men to hold banners and they all bow before Christ and Pilate himself stands for Christ. Pilate also shows fear of Christ which is interesting as many fear Pilate such as the guards he leaves at Jesus' tomb. At the end of the piece it describes Pilate as just a man dealing with out of the ordinary circumstances, and he acted as though any man would to save himself above all others. When going over the article again the actions of Pilate make a lot more sense as this is exactly what a man who is trying to protect himself would do, putting the blame on others and doing what he believes will keep him out of the most trouble. In the end I sympathized with Pilate because what is a man of his position supposed to do when presented with a situation like this as he is walking on thin ice and the way things turn out could end horribly for himself.
I’m still a bit torn on how to interpret Marie de France’s lai “Bisclavret.” It follows the expected form of the lai, depicting love as suffering for all parties involved, but it is also a very gendered tale in which male and female suffer due to gendered punishments. Are the punishments fair? Are they equal? What commentary on marriage and gender is being made in this text? Basically, the husband’s punishment (being turned semi-permanently into a werewolf) is inflicted upon him by his wife (and his wife’s new love interest) because he kept a secret from her. The secret—of his turning into a werewolf once a month, of course—was kept, however, in relatively good conscience; he was afraid of revealing this personal flaw to his wife and did not want to upset her. The wife’s punishment, later in the tale, is losing her nose (and bearing children with no noses), inflicted by the werewolf as punishment for keeping him from turning back into a human and abandoning him for another man. Both punishments affect physical appearance. Bisclavret’s unappealing appearance as a wolf, however, doesn’t do him much disservice; the king and knights still take him in and he enters into the homosocial bond that gives no value to appearance. He is valued and cared for just as much when he is a wolf as when he is a man. The wife’s change in appearance is different, though. Women’s appearances contribute greatly to their domestic lives (acceptance by the husband) and public lives (acceptance by female social circle), and the fact that her children were born without noses (and all of them female!) seems a far more serious punishment than that inflicted on Bisclavret. On one hand, I’d like to lay blame on the wife for such a harsh punishment toward her husband for keeping a rather harmless secret. On the other hand, the tale can be read as the wife’s inability to make choices regarding her love life without outside judgement and subsequent punishment. Is this a tale of warning for women who choose to leave their husbands more than it is a tale of warning for husbands not to keep secrets from their wives? Rather than being merely an amusing commentary on marriage, I feel like “Bisclavret” leans toward commentary on the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors of the wife in relation to her husband.