Madonna, by virtue of her acts in her particular art form, would not advocate chastity as the Wife of Bath does. She would, nevertheless, advocate the equality of women by suggesting that women must strengthen themselves against the reality that they might be referred to as the weaker sex, if they do not stand on their own feet, either through power begotten by wealth (as in the case of the Wife of Bath controlling her husband’s property), or by using societal norms to their advantage, as does the old hag with the young knight when he has to fulfill his promise to marry her. The young knight had to honor his promise according to the customs of the day. He also had to fulfill the marriage debt, which was a mutual duty shared by husband and wife both, to perform sexually at each other’s request. The young knight, married to the old hag, does experience “greet woe.” “He walweth and turneth to and fro” in bed. Only after his wife has delivered a long sermon does he learn to surrender the right to decide what he wants to his wife. She, in return, transforms in his eyes into a compliant woman of exceptional beauty, and she continues thus until the end of their married days (Nelson).
Verbal power seems to be a rather strong element in the character of the Wife of Bath. Even Madonna uses words to her advantage just as she uses the Wife of Bath’s element of sexuality and openness. All the same, Madonna is not from a time period that has accepted women’s inferiority as an explicit given. On the contrary, Madonna’s age talks openly about women’s liberation, even if all men do not agree with it in all parts of the world. We can conclude from this fact alone that the Wife of Bath is more charismatic and extraordinary than Madonna because she is all by herself in her fight for women’s liberation, so to say.
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