When asked to compare Geoffrey Chaucer's "Wife of Bath" character with either Madonna, Oprah, or Hilary Clinton, it's obvious that Madonna stands out as almost a duplicate of her. Everything about the two could be lined up side by side, and we wouldn't be able to guess which is which. Although the rights, power, and even image of women has changed over the years, we will always have the bold ones that stand out in any era.
What do the Wife of Bath and Madonna have in common? In short, both can be construed as "selling" their sexuality for riches and position. I don't believe that Chaucer meant for the gap–toothed, sensual Wife of Bath to be thought of as a manipulative whore, even if she does “sell” her sex to her husband for land and other riches. She is an early feminist, defying centuries of literature that pronounced women as property and submission as their role. She refuses to submit her mind or her body unwillingly, and claims her own right to sexual pleasure. "Tell me this also: why at our creation/ Were organs given us for generation?" It’s hard to imagine what Chaucer’s readers must have thought about her in that time. I'm sure it was much like the response that Madonna got from audiences when "Like a Virgin," and "Material Girl," came out. She is the ultimate example of a woman who has used her sexuality to further herself with money and fame. She rose to fame in the 1980s partly because of her acknowledgment and openness of her sexuality. When she realized that "sex sells," she started pushing the limits even more. She became more than willing to market her body, even in erotic publications showing sexually explicit photos of herself and others.
Unlike the Wife of Bath, Madonna has not had five husbands. She has had MANY public boyfriends/lovers, but she has only married twice. This only shows the difference in the times though. Nowadays, women can become filthy rich on their own. They don't have to look for a man to take...
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