The Name of the Rose

by Umberto Eco

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In The Name of the Rose, how does the abbey relate to the world?

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I am assuming you meant, "the" abbey?

The abbey represented all the knowledge that was known to Christendom as represented by the large library housed in the abbey.  In addition, all the action and mystery that occurs in the book centers around this center of knowledge.

The village surrounding the abbey is partially dependent on the monastery for its economy.  There are kitchen girls and stable boys for example who come from the village.  However, in large part the internal goings on of the abbey are left a mystery to the villagers.  

Externally, the abbey represents wealth, knowledge and religion and it functions in the Middle Age society similarly as the castle of a large landowner would.  For those who are able to afford and education, the abbey would represent a place where they could send their sons to become educated.  Usually, the second sons, those who cannot inherit would be sent to the monks. 

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