1. The Tenth Story of the Tenth Day: Why is Griselda being tested?
Gualtieri was perfectly content to live a bachelor’s lifestyle – until his followers began pestering him to get a wife and produce an heir. (In their defense, Gualtieri was a marquis with a large land holding, and they all lived on that land.) In order to appease his followers, Gualitieri found a wife named Griselda that he thought would fit his bachelor lifestyle – obedient, patient, and above all, didn’t question his decisions. Apparently, Gualtieri didn’t believe that Griselda would stay true to those qualities, and so began a series of tests to, well, test them. First he took away her (their) children, making her believe that he’d had them murdered. Then, after twelve years had passed, he let her believe he was divorcing her to marry another woman. As a final test, he had Griselda make the house perfect for his new bride. Of course, these were all tests, as he really did love Griselda, and the “new bride” and her brother were actually their children. I know I wouldn’t have held on to my patience like Griselda did; one implication that my husband was going to murder my child and I would have left an Amy-sized hole in the door! (With the baby, of course.)
2. Compare the frame tales in the Decameron and the Thousand and One Nights. In each case, what is the reason for telling stories? Do the stories accomplish the purpose for which they are intended? How important is the relationship between the tale and the teller?
In the Decameron, the stories (at least the ones selected for the Norton Anthology) are moral tales, as are the tales in the Thousand and One Nights. In the Thousand and One Nights, Shahrazad is obviously trying to prolong her life by keeping her stories interesting (and moralistic so the king will stew on the morals presented for another night) and cutting them off when she gets to the good part. In the Decameron, the stories are meant to entertain a group of people; but the stories that we’re presented with mostly involve teaching the women that are present how to be a good wife (obedient and good-tempered like Griselda, who got everything she wanted in the end). In both tales, the frame stories certainly fulfill the purpose which they intended – Shahrazad’s life is spared, and the “pleasure” party is entertained, so their purpose was fulfilled, and the relationship between all the tales and their tellers simply reflects what they find to be most important (like preserving your own life while passing on some good morals).
3. In Laustic, what does the nightengale symbolize? Explain your answer.
When a knight and his neighbor’s wife fall in love, the wife needs to be able to hide the real reason she has been standing at the window for hours every night (really to gaze lovingly to her lover). She explains to her husband that she enjoys the nightengale’s song, and so longs for it that she can’t sleep. In response, her nasty husband tracks down the nightengale and kills it, spilling its blood across his wife’s chest. Poor nightengale, seriously. But here, it symbolizes all the unfulfilled love between the knight and the wife. When her husband rips off the bird’s head, it symbolizes the love that can never happen, and when the knight gently places the bird’s body in a tiny golden casket, he’s symbolizing that while he knows the relationship is now over, he will always cherish it.