The Book of the City of Ladies



Characters Reason

Reason is the first of the three allegorical figures to step forward and announce her intention to dispel the insecurity and ignorance that clouds Christine’s intellect. She is also the first to announce the figures’ intention to appear to Christine and present her with her task of constructing the City of Ladies. Reason presents herself as an administrator who will oversee the construction of a flawless city. Reason helps Christine perform the initial excavation work. She encourages Christine to reassess the power of her pen as a device that can be used to unearth the truth and to remove the mud and dirt that previously sullied the good name of women. Only then can a solid foundation be established. As a symbolic presence, Reason is an important first figure to appear to Christine, as all philosophical arguments must originate and proceed with logic. Without logic, any ensuing evidence or conclusions would lack solid framework and would crumble.

In her oration and her response to Christine’s various questions concerning the nature of women, Reason establishes several important patterns. She uses Christine’s questions as prompts to help her develop thematic elements that are also qualities shared by all virtuous and notable women. From these initial suggestions, Reason, and subsequently the two other Virtues, provide a series of narrations as a growing body of evidence supporting the defense of women. Story by story, the argument gains strength, just as brick by brick the city grows larger and more forbidding. Reason cites examples from a variety of sources. She tells of women from the past as well as the present. By doing so, she draws parallels between past and present, suggesting a continuous and ongoing history of virtue on the part of women. In establishing this second pattern, Reason wishes to dispel any notion that venerable women were solely a thing of the past.