Chastity in Literature

(2474 words)
  • Corrinne Harol (University of Alberta)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

While chastity’s meaning and relative importance have varied over time and place, it has always suggested the triumph of culture over nature, or mind over body. The logic for chastity is usually founded on the idea that attachment to sensual things makes one less committed to nonsenual values, whether religious, political, social, or philosophical. The term typically connotes both the difficulty in achieving such ideals and the sense that chastity is nonetheless an unconditional standard; hence one rarely encounters the comparative or superlative (chaster, chastest) variants of the term. The bodily function most associated with chastity is sexuality (virginity or celibacy), but it can encompass others as well: austerity in dress …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Harol, Corrinne . "Chastity in Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 August 2010
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=13862, accessed 21 October 2014.]