Document Type



Master of Arts



First Adviser

Edwards, Suzanne


This paper examines the formal use of address and the allegorical content of Sawles Warde alongside two other instructional texts for anchoresses, Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meiðhad, in order to argue that these texts represent a coherent pedagogical program that promotes the internalization of didactic dialogue. This comparative reading of the style of address employed in Ancrene Wisse, Hali Meiðhad, and Sawles Warde, highlights the way in which the speaker –reader relationship in Sawles Warde fosters a pedagogical partnership rather than the relationship of subordination that structures Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meiðhad. With this in mind, this paper also argues that the allegory of Sawles Warde disrupts misogynistic representations of gender relationships. The text does so by presenting the image of the hierarchically structured household as unstable, and offering in as an alternative, a vision of a more equitable and effective structure of the domestic space that relies on input from both masculine and feminine figures. By attending to this instruction coherence – reading these texts as interconnected – I argue that Sawles Warde emerges as a kind of pedagogical key, offering the anchoress a way of understanding and influencing the gendered relationship that structure her devotional education.