that by the time she arrived at Sarrance she was accompanied only by one man and one woman (61).
Only three people survive the arduous journey, two of them women, and one of them an old, heavy widow! Clearly, women are to be portrayed by Marguerite as exceptional characters. However, if the reader expects all the women to be idealistic feminists with a spiritual perspective, he or she will be surprised. This racy book is full of women who are as licentious as any macho male. Marguerite certainly means to hold Oisille up as an ideal character, but she is not about to claim that all women are saintly, nor that all men are equally bestial.
With respect to the latter point, for example, we find the two young men in the Prologue who willingly put their lives on the line to drive away the murdering bandits. Hircan, himself shown to be a brave avenger, is hardly portrayed at the start as the sort of gross oaf he will turn out to be. Perhaps Marguerite did not want to portray him in such an unfavorable light that the reader would care utterly nothing for him.
If there is any doubt that Oisille will be portrayed as a superior figure, this doubt is done away with by Marguerite in her Prologue, in which she has all the other characters in the abbey plead with her for guidance. They have all been through harrowing, life-threatening experiences, they have survived, and now they are for an indefinite amount of time stuck together in the abbey.
One after another, all the women and the men beg Oisille to help them survive the ordeal by thinking up some sort of amusement or entertainment that will prevent them from going insane or even perishing:
Nomerfide said that this was a very good idea, and that if she had to spend a single day without some entertainment, she would be sure to die the next. All the men supported this, and asked the Lady Oisille if she would kindly organize what they should do (66).
If there is any doubt ...