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Posted on May 31st, 2012, by

The main characters of the medieval works “Canterbury Tales”¯ by Geoffrey Chaucer ”“ the Wife of Bath ”“ and of “Decameron”¯ by Giovanni Boccaccio ”“ Monna Giovanni are bright examples of two types of women of Middle Ages.

Comparing them, we can state that they belong to different strata of society and due to their way of life have different points of view.

The Wife of Bath has radical ideas about matrimony and women’s role in the society that run counter to those of her contemporaries. She is an experienced woman, especially in love and sex. She has been married five times and claims that the number of marriages is of no importance. According to her, nobody, even God, has ever limited the number of times a woman can love and be loved in her life. “But no specific number mentioned he/ Whether of bigamy or octogamy”¯. (Chaucer, 459)

Money plays a significant role in the Wife’s life, particularly while choosing a spouse. She turns the marriage in some sort of business, where woman is an article of trade and man is a customer. From the Wife’s point of view, financially lucky marriage and then widowhood could be the only means for a woman to become firmly established in life.

Monna Giovanni is opposed to the Wife. Her views are alike to the common ideas, prevailing in the medieval society.

She does not strain after money, perhaps because she is quite rich, still the man’s character is much more important for her than his wealth. “I would sooner have a gentleman without riches, than riches without a gentleman.”¯ (Boccaccio, 157)

Her main values are her feelings and nobility towards others. She does not want marry Federigo because she does not love him, however when she is forced to marry someone, she chooses penniless Federigo who has been faithful to her for many years.

Thus, we can make a conclusion that the Wife of Bath and Monna Giovanni are examples of two contrary kinds of women of Middle Ages. The Wife’s material attitude to love and marriage is opposed to the spiritual values of Monna Giovanni.

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