Monna Giovanna and the Wife of Bath are both fictional characters in two separate works. Monna Giovanna, a character in Decameron’s Federigo’s Falcon, is a beautiful noblewoman living in Florence with her husband and son. She is pursued by another man, Federigo but being a virtuous and fair woman, does not give in to his advances. With time, her husband passes away leaving his wealth to her son who later falls sick. The son requests for Federigo’s falcon so as to get well and being a devoted mother, Monna goes to request Federigo for it. Unfortunately, Federigo has turned the falcon into a meal and has nothing to give Monna.
Her son later dies leaving her a fortune and to honor Federigo’s loyalty, she marries him (Boccaccio, Payne and Cuilleanain 405-410). On the other hand, the wife of bath is a character in the Canterbury tales and is the sixth tale. Her tale has a rather long prologue and gives an account of her life. It seems to be a confession of the things she has done but at the same time, she appears to be trying to justify her actions (Moore). COMPARISON OF MONNA GIOVANNI AND THE WIFE OF BATH Monna Giovanna, a conformist, is more representative of the medieval times than the Wife of Bath, a non- conformist.
Both characters appear to be more different than alike in character and in their attitude towards life. Monna Giovanna is a rich noblewoman who portrays all the qualities of a good woman as per the medieval times. She is faithful and loyal to her husband despite Federigo’s advances and the book quotes her as being ‘no less virtuous than fair” (Boccaccio et al, 406). She faithfully observes the customs of the medieval times, moving into the country after the death of her husband and getting someone to accompany her when she visits Federigo, exhibiting ‘womanly graciousness” (406-407).
On the other hand, the Wife of Bath is neither a rich woman nor a beautiful one but she works hard to become one through her marriages to wealthy men. Unlike Monna, she is not a conformist to the medieval customs and is stubborn, candid, full of vitality and from her life’s account, not gracious at all. She exposes intimate details concerning her private life quite readily and is also very candid in her revelation of her worldly attitude towards religious activities (Moore). The two women have different attitudes towards men.
Monna remains devoted to her husband even as Federigo tries to woe her with gifts (Boccaccio et al, 406) and when he dies, she would have preferred to stay alone but upon insistence from her brothers, decides to marry Federigo (410). On the other hand, the wife of Bath remarries each time she is widowed and has a total of five husbands who she tries to control (Moore). Thus while Monna believes in the leadership of the man, the Wife of Bath would rather exercise control over him and advises other wives to do the same (Moore). The women also differ in their attitude towards marriage.
Monna Giovanna seems to hold marriage as a sacred institution as she preserves it despite Federigo’s advances. She holds values such as loyalty and love in high esteem as opposed to riches and this drives her to marry Federigo despite his poor status, reasoning that she would much rather “ have a man with no wealth than wealth without a man. ” (Boccaccio et al, 410). Monna seems to view marriage as a source of companionship but even as she says this, the wife of Bath is ready to use marriage to gain wealth and improve her status in society. She chooses old but wealthy husbands for material gain and is quite proud of it.
She views marriage as a source of pleasure rather than companionship and wealth appears to be more important than love. Thus after securing their wealth, she sees no need in continuing to try winning their love (Moore). Medieval women were subordinated as portrayed by Monna but the Wife of Bath manages to break away from this. REFERENCES Boccaccio, Giovanni, John Payne and Cormac O. Cuilleanain. Decameron. London, UK: Wordsworth Editions, 2004 Moore, Andrew Robert. The wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale-study guide. N. D. 12 Feb 2009 <http://www. teachit. co. uk/armoore/poetry/wifebath. htm#marriage>