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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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Book of the City of Ladies!