1. The Tenth Story of the Tenth Day: Why is Griselda being tested?
Griselda is being tested by her husband to prove her humility and loyalty. On some levels, it reminds me of the story of Job. Her value is that she doesn’t question or fight back, but accepts and moves forward. This is a rather disturbing lens to view this story through because it sets up Griselda as the human and her husband as God. By extension, women in the culture of the Tenth Story of the Tenth Day are rewarded for blind faith in abusive men.
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?
The woman in Thousand and One Nights that tells stories is doing so to slowly teach her husband how to be a good and trusting ruler. She knows that if she does not do so effectively each night, her life will end the next day. The women in the Decameron tell their stories partially as morality tales for how they will live if they survive the black death. It is a hopeful wish fulfillment of a life that continues outside of their present isolation. It is also a way to teach each other and the readers life values that can be put to use after the black plague passes by. Stories to Sharazad are weapons, shields, and textbooks on life lessons for the king. Stories for the people of Decameron are treatments, group therapy, and textbooks on life lessons for everyone.
3. In Laustic, what does the nightingale symbolize? Explain your answer.
The nightingale symbolizes her desire for freedom and fulfillment. Nightingales sing and express themselves during the night, which is a contrast to her trapped state when her husband is at home. Once the nightingale is captured by her husband, though, so too are her desires to be free contained and minimized. Her sexual and romantic desire is squashed too, controlled by her husband just as he controls the bird. Presumably, before she married him, she was more like the free bird. But after her marriage, she became like the caged bird. The nightingale’s defeat symbolizes the defeat of her hope.