Of particular interest to me is the options available to women in this period. Contemplating the limitations Marian of Ravenskeep must face as she is torn between maintaining her holdings while esteemed but unpleasant men threaten her fragile liberty, makes me grateful that I live in a place and time where I am more than an exchange of property only suited for childbearing. Today, I am valued as a person with thoughts and rights. One's physical sex is still a key part of self-definition yet it is far broader than previous historical periods.
No one should be judged or weighed strictly by biology or economic standing. Focusing too much on difference, even with the best of intentions, can, damage the social fabric. This is how stereotypes are formed and, while often based in some truth, they are usually blown out of proportion to reality. Differences between men and women exist, there's no denying that, but both need to be treated with respect and given the autonomy to pursue self-discovery and fulfillment.
Marian of Ravenskeep is not the only person bound by circumstance in 'Lady of the Forest'. The novel does a good job of also showing how trapped Robert of Loxley is in the society of decorum he was born to. Having seen more of the world and been privy to its cruelties, he sees the emptiness of courting favour and the monstrosities he used to overlook. Although his options are not as restricted as Marian's, he too is snared by expectations.
So long as a person's actions do not harm others, I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to pursue them. Society is changing faster now than in any previous period of history. There's enormous positive potential as well as negative. If people have stability in their lives and the right to choose, I believe humanity has a chance of succeeding. In what? That is for us all to decide.
The below image is courtesy of dashinvaine