De France, Decameron

1.   Gualtieri was a person that believed that marriages did not have happy endings.    In his opinion, it was too difficult to find a woman that would adapt to his culture and the way he did things.  He decided to married Griselda, even though her appearance was not of a noble one, and found that she was a very obedient and kind woman, dedicated to service.  Her qualities were praised by their culture.  In his doubt, he decided to test her to see if there was anything that he could do that could make her change the way she was.  She never changed her attitude towards him, even after the cruelty that her husband put her through.  At the end he showed in front of everybody the kind of woman she was, by exposing all the secrets involved in her test.  I think this is a symbolic story because in the last ceremony she was wearing the same “ragged and rustic’ clothing that he made her take off when he first married her, as in symbolizing that the attire of individuals does not portray their qualities or their faithfulness.  In the same way, this is challenging the moral tradition that women are supposed to do everything that men say and be obedient to men no matter the circumstance.  This can actually be seen better at the end, when the storyteller stated:  “For perhaps it would have served him right if he had chanced upon a wife, who, being driven from the house in her shift, had found some other wife, who, being driven from the house in her shift, had found some other man to shake her skin-coat for her, earning herself a fine new dress in the process.’  This is because of his own distrust he got to the point on having all the qualities that he would not want himself in any woman.  Maybe, after all he did deserve a prostitute for wife.

2.     In The Thousand and One Nights, the reason for telling the story of the merchant and the demon was with the purpose to change the point of view of the king, in thinking that all women were the same way, unfaithful.  Each of the traveler’s story that were told to the demon asking for a third of forgiveness for the merchant, had both, men and women doing bad and good things, showing how both, men and women make mistakes equally, and how although some women were bad, others were good.  Is a more different worldview, in that humans, in general, no matter the gender, can be bad or good.  In The Decameron, the tales are more to emphasize or to challenge a moral traditional law.  For example, in the first tale, Ser Cepperello deceived a friar by telling him a false confession of his sins in life.  He made it seem as if he was an angel in human flesh.  Since the friar believed everything that he said, he received the same ceremony and honor that a saint deserve.  This challenge the way the catholic religion in those times made a decision in making someone a saint.  However, it also leaves it open to believe that maybe people were receiving miracles by praying to Cepperello saint, not because he really was a saint, but because perhaps God honored the prayer of the good friar.

3.   The nightingale symbolizes the story of how a knight and a lady could not be with each other.  Each night, when the lady’s husband was sleeping she would meet with the knight.  This was until her husband realized that his wife was leaving his side all night and asked her where she went, to which she answered that she really liked the nightingale songs and so she stayed awake in the night listening to it.  Her husband made sure the nightingale was killed, so she could not have anymore excuses.  That is why the lady sent the dead nightingale to the knight, to let him know that she could not see him again.  I think the nightingale is a symbol of the traditional moral views of the time.  In this case, it was considered bad for a lady and a knight to be together, because of the expected roles of each in the society.  It also raises the question, if is worth and wise to spend the life with someone that does not loves you, just because that is what is expected by the society.

1 thought on “De France, Decameron

  1. jwmaring

    I like your second reply about The Thousand and One Nights and the Decameron because I was really struggling to find any sort of meaning in the stories being told. But I would agree that the two brothers perhaps learned a lesson, even if it be a fleeting one, when they met the demons mistress near the sea. And I feel even more strongly about your interpretation in the Decameron about challenging the views held during the time. The “saint” was certainly able to talk-the-talk when it was most beneficial, and this could be just one reason to give rise to the eventual Reformation.

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