Study Guide

Kempe's Daughter-in-Law in The Book of Margery Kempe

Kempe's Daughter-in-Law

It's a tale as old as time: mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law do not like each other. Well, the relationship between Kempe and her "tall" son's widow does not deviate from this script. Although things start off well—daughter-in-law hears about Kempe's spiritual experiences and wants to meet her—things sour after she spends eighteen months in Kempe's household. Daughter-in-law is even more dismayed when her screaming mama is commanded by Jesus to accompany her ALL THE WAY BACK TO PRUSSIA.

By the time Kempe parts with her daughter-in-law in Germany, there's no love lost on either side. Kempe gets no help from the young widow in making her return trip plans to England—and that turns out to be disastrous. Kempe finds herself travelling through war-torn lands (where England is the aggressor) and very much without proper companions. Between fearing rape and catching all manner of vermin on her body, Kempe doesn't have time to say much else about her son's charming choice of wife.