The Return of Martin Guerre

1076 words 5 pages
The Return of Martin Guerre
The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the book "The Return of Martin Guerre" by Natalie Zamon Davis. Specifically, it will discuss the life of the peasant during the Middle Ages. This book is a fascinating account of a true case that happened during the 16th century in France. The book is also an excellent example of how the peasants lived in the Middle Ages, from what they ate, to how they traveled and what their family lives were like.
This book shows that life in the Middle Ages was difficult and demanding, but it seems a little bit peaceful and serene, too. The main occupations were farming and raising sheep or goats, and there were tradesman in the villages who worked for a
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Davis writes, "First a world where organizational structure and public identity were associated exclusively with males" (Davis 29). The women worked in the fields, helped raise the livestock, served as midwives, cooked and baked. They were essential to everyday life in the peasant world, but they held no rights or privileges. The only women that really rose up in society were the widows, who could earn the respect of others and wield "informal power" (Davis 31).
Armand Du Tilh was able to get away with his deception for several reasons. First, he resembled Guerre enough that people mistook him for the missing man (Davis 39). Next, he learned all he could about the missing man so that he could fool Martin's family into believing he was actually Guerre. Davis writes, "He informed himself as cunningly as he could about Martin Guerre, his situation, his family, and the things he used to say and do" (Davis 39). He also grew a beard to hide any differences in his face, and took great pains to learn the villagers' names and how he interacted with them when he had lived in the village before. In short, he learned every detail about Martin Guerre's life, and convinced people he was Martin because of all the details he seemed to "recall" about his prior life. Davis believes that he was accepted because people wanted him to come back for all those years, and that he came "announced" as Martin Guerre, and so people wanted to believe it was true (Davis