“As faucon comen out of muwe”: Female Agency and the Language of Falconry
Petrosillo traces the literary history of a metaphor comparing a molting falcon to a changeable woman. The chapter focuses on both the familiarity of falconry training among medieval readers and the metaphor’s movement among different genres. Attending to the language of plumage in falconry manuals, Petrosillo traces the metaphor from Chrétien de Troyes’s twelfth-century romance Cligès, to the thirteenth-century fabliau Guillaume au faucon, to Guillaume de Machaut’s fourteenth-century allegory Le dit de l’alerion, and finally to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Petrosillo argues that the literary history of the mewed falcon trope troubles essentializing claims about women’s “nature” by using the nonhuman communication of birds’ plumage to figure a feminist resistance.