This study utilizes three literary methodologies - archetypal, semiotic and feminist deconstructionist theory - to challenge contemporary assumptions of the medieval world via the portrait of the virgin as dragon-slayer. The remarkable story of the virgin martyr, St Margaret of Antioch, tells how a dragon from hell swallows her, hoping to obliterate both her body and her memory. But the virgin refuses to be destroyed. She triumphantly bursts through the dragon's back and proclaims herself a champion. In that moment, the conventional dragon story is summoned, only to be fundamentally redrawn. This book investigates the implications of this remarkable overturning, where meaning explodes and refuses to be contained. But this surfeit of meaning also challenges our own interpretative methodologies. Here is a woman who imitates Christ as harrower of hell, who demonstrates the strength of the medieval romance hero or saint, who subverts the power of pagan authority through her embrace of suffering, who is constrained and paraded by the power of language. The yield from each of these methodologies is valid, but proves to be partial. Language is, like the virgin, ultimately excessive.The virgin is at once pure, powerful and monstrous, a figure who fascinates because she resists final definition.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
Number of pages: 420