Mounument to Ingenuity the Decameron Term Paper

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Per cio che, secondo che egli le mostrava, niun d' era che non-solamente una festa ma molte non-ne fossero, a reverenza delle quali per diverse cagioni mostrava l'uomo e la donna doversi abstenere da cos' fatti congiugnimenti, sopra questi aggiugnendo digiuni e quattro tempora e vigilie d'apostoli e di mille altri santi e venerd' e sabati e la domenica del Signore e la quaresima tutta, e certi punti della luna e altre eccezion molte, avvisandosi forse che cos' feria far si convenisse con le donne nel letto, come egli faceva talvolta piatendo alle civili."

The wife however is not duped by this and soon goes away with another man. The husband eventually dies, and the young widow remains with her lover. The pattern of the tricks in this story repeats itself many times throughout the Decameron: a character who tries to deceive another is eventually deceived in his turn. There is also an emphasis on the wife's right to enjoy the pleasures of life.

The first story of the third day, told by Filostrato, describes the farce that Masetto da Lamporecchio plays on the nuns of a convent. Thus, he feigns to be dumb to obtain a gardener's place at the convent, and thus gets all the nuns in the convent to engage in sexual relations with him. Again, the trick betokens ingenuity: Masetto simply feigns that he is dumb, at first because it would be the best way to obtain admittance in a women's convent, as he would not be able to offend them with his talk which might be unrighteous. His main intention is however to get the nuns to lie with him, knowing that if they think he is dumb they will trust no one else will ever find out. After some time spent like this, he goes to the abbess to complain about the fact that he is required to do "work" he was not hired for, and thus reveals that he is not dumb:

Ultimamente della sua camera alla stanza di lui rimandatolone, e molto spesso rivolendolo e oltre a cio piu che parte volendo da lui, non-potendo Masetto sodisfare a tante, s'aviso che il suo esser mutolo gli potrebbe, se piu stesse, in troppo gran danno resultare; e percio una notte, con la badessa essendo, rotto lo scilinguagnolo, comincio a dire: 'Madonna, io ho inteso che un gallo basta assai bene a diece galline, ma che diece uomini posson male o con fatica una femina sodisfare, dove a me ne convien servir nove, al che per cosa del mondo io non-potrei durare, anzi sono io, per quello che infino a qui ho fatto, a tal venuto che io non-posso fare ne poco ne molto; e percio o voi mi lasciate andar con Dio, o voi a questa cosa trovate modo.'"

The only moral behind a story like this, as Boccaccio points out many times, is to learn how to be witty enough to trick someone else, and how to avoid being tricked yourself.

The third day is particularly fraught with farces and jokes. Another very clever one is that told by Pampinea in the second story of this day: a groom lies with the wife of King Agilulf, who learns the fact, keeps his own counsel, finds out the groom and shears him so that he might be able to recognize him in the morning and punish him accordingly. The shorn groom however shears all his fellows, and so comes safe out of the scrape. Again, the same pattern repeats: the king tries to trick the groom in a clever manner to make sure he catches him but the groom outwits him and plays another trick that is even more efficient:

Costui, che tutto cio sentito avea, s' come colui che malizioso era, chiaramente s'avviso per che cos' segnato era stato; la onde egli senza alcuno aspettar si levo, e trovato un paio di forficette, delle quali per avventura v'erano alcun paio per la stalla per lo servigio de' cavalli, pianamente andando a quanti in quella casa ne giacevano, a tutti in simil maniera sopra l'orecchie taglio I capelli; e cio fatto, senza essere stato sentito, se ne torno a dormire."

Many of the victims of the pranks are either the husbands or the religious officials. In the third story of the same day the plot is centered on who a lady manages to deceive a friar to be the intermediary between her and her lover. By dissimulating and making herself appear as a saint almost, a married woman goes to a friar and asks his help in a matter that, according to her, disturbs her deeply: a man keeps following her and looking at her in an improper way. It turns out however that the woman was merely trying to get the attention of the man she liked in the safest way possible, without having to write to him or to make any rash move. The ingenuity lies precisely in this art of playing a perfect trick, one that not only deceives the other, but manages to do it thus that it is completely safe for the deceiver:

Io intendo di raccontarvi una beffa che fu da dovero fatta da una bella donna a uno solenne religioso, tanto piu ad ogni secolar da piacere, quanto essi, il piu stoltissimi e uomini di nuove maniere e costumi, si credono piu che gli altri in ogni cosa valere e sapere, dove essi di gran lunga sono da molto meno, s' come quegli che per vilta d'animo non-avendo argomento, come gli altri uomini, di civanzarsi, si rifuggono dove aver possano da mangiar come il porco. www.stg.brown.edu/projects/decameron/showEngTrans.php?myID=p03030004&back=nov0303&expand=day03" La quale, o piacevoli donne, io raccontero non-solamente per seguire l'ordine imposto, ma ancora per farvi accorte che eziandio I religiosi, a' quali noi, oltre modo credule, troppa fede prestiamo, possono essere e sono alcuna volta, non-che dagli uomini, ma da alcuna di noi cautamente beffati."

At many times also, the farces are played intentionally so as to convey the appearance of virtuousness, and to be in fact the greatest vices. The good certainly does not triumph over the bad in Boccaccio's stories, or at least not the good in the traditional, moral sense. As in the story just mentioned, in the following one of the third day Dom Felice instructs Friar Puccio how to attain blessedness by doing a penance. Friar Puccio does the penance, and meanwhile Dom Felice has a good time with Friar Puccio's wife, thus demonstrating that the easiest way to deceive is indeed through playing the virtuous. One of the funniest stories in the Decameron is perhaps the second one from the fourth day, in which a man deceives a woman into believing that he is no less than the angel Gabriel. The woman thus is fooled into thinking that she is being virtuous when she has sexual relations with the so-called angel:

Allora la donna, che piccola levatura avea, disse: Comare, egli non-si vuol dire, ma l'intendimento mio e l'agnolo Gabriello, il quale piu che se m'ama, si come la piu bella donna, per quello che egli mi dica, che sia nel mondo o in maremma. La comare allora ebbe voglia di ridere, ma pur si tenne per farla piu avanti parlare, e disse: In fe di Dio, Madonna, se l'agnolo Gabriello e il vostro intendimento, e dicevi questo, egli dee ben esser cos"; ma io non-credeva che gli agnoli facesson queste cose. Disse la donna: Comare, voi siete errata; per le piaghe di Dio egli fa meglio che mio marido; e dicemi che egli si fa anche colassu; ma perciocche io gli paio piu bella che niuna che ne sia in cielo, s'e egli innamorato di me, e viensene a star meco ben spesso: mo vedi vu?"

In this example, the man also takes advantage of the woman's vanity, since she believes herself to be fairer than the angels in heaven. Thus, Boccaccio aims the farces in turn at friars and nuns who are either ignorant or corrupt, at vanity as one of the main sins of man, at the care that people usual have to seem virtuous in society when they are not, or at stupidity in general. The deceived characters in his stories are not therefore sympathized by the audience, even if some of the tricks are indeed cruel.

One of the cruelest and almost sadist farce played is that in the story of the widow and the scholar, told by Fiammeta on the eight day. At first, the widow plays a ruthless trick on the scholar who is desperately in love with her. He makes him believe she will receive him in her…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:

"Il-Novellino-[ca.-1281-1300]" 

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