The Book of the City of Ladies is a philosophical dialogue that is also a feminist allegory.


The narrators of the work are Christine de Pizan and the allegorical figures of the three Virtues: Reason, Justice, and Rectitude.

Point of View

Christine de Pizan addresses the three allegorical figures in the first person. Reason, Justice, and Rectitude often use the first person, but mostly relate their stories of the lives of women in the third person. They objectively relate the incidents that make up their narratives but often interject their strong opinions regarding the proceedings.


Christine de Pizan adopts a tone to reflect her meekness, disbelief, and uncertainty about the status of women. The three allegorical figures are more passionate and emotional in their defense of their sex.


The Book of the City of Ladies is delivered in the past tense.

Setting (Time & Place)

The work is set in the early 1400s and takes place in the site of the future City of Ladies.


Christine de Pizan is the protagonist in the work.

Major Conflict

The major conflict occurs before the book begins. Christine is responding to the claims of numerous authors, and one in particular, that women are immoral and unvirtuous.

Rising Action

The three Virtues help Christine to construct her symbolic sanctuary for women, the City of Ladies, but instead of employing bricks, the community is built using stories and examples of the deeds and lives of virtuous women.


The City of Ladies is completed and populated with notable women from the past and present as well as from literature, the Bible, and mythology.

Falling Action

Christine addresses the residents of the City of Ladies, encouraging them to stay steadfast in defending their honor and virtue.


Reason’s tale of Dido foreshadows Rectitude’s tale relating the lovesick queen’s tragic end. Similarly, Reason discusses Medea’s ability to enchant and to cast spells. Later, Rectitude shows how these abilities made her vulnerable to the manipulations of Jason.