Competitive Envy

In her article, Envy and Exemplarity in the Book of Margery Kempe, Rosenfeld focuses on Kempe’s competitive nature in the secular community and the religious community. According to Rosenfeld, Kempe’s competitiveness is outlined in her behavior as she aims to have better material possession than her neighbors and in the religious community as she challenges religious leaders and compare herself to religious women. To further illustrate Kempe’s competitive nature, Rosenfeld reveals how the text is presented in a way that uplifts Kempe’s role as a saint even as this role is meant to be destroyed by others, their slander and scorn ultimately proving her to be the righteous, singular individual she aims to be. Though this may not be the purpose of Kempe’s structure, Rosenfeld’s presentation of it certainly holds up.

2 thoughts on “Competitive Envy

  1. I agree with you that this text almost “uplifts Kempe’s role.” In a way this article justified her actions and reasons for her behavior and way of life. I did find it somewhat challenging at times and a little repetitive as well, as she repeats ideas that don’t need to be. In addition, I found it interesting on the strong focus on envy as an emotion. Was this a predominate emotion found in the Medieval Ages? Or was it especially relevant when it comes to religious writings? I think Kempe is somewhat contradictory and paradoxical then as she claims to be one way but like you stated is competitive with her material possessions.

  2. That’s a really important question, Emily, wondering why the focus on envy. I think it’s a matter of Rosenfeld’s responding to critical reception of Margery as much as it is a matter of envy’s role in medieval life–she seems to see this as a recurring ‘problem’ in modern reception of Margery.

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