The Decameron
by
Giovanni Boccaccio
Seventh Day, Second Story
 LIT211, Dr. Richie

Group 8
Jerry Elashmawy
Soultana Vlahos
Jennifer Ng
Choi Yin Ng

BOCCACCIO'S LIFE AND WORKS

 

BIOGRAPHY
            Born to an Italian merchant named Boccaccino di Cehlo, Giovanni Boccaccio lived through the early era of the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. Boccacio’s father played an intricate role in his life by supplying him with a high level education.  However, his mother was not part of his life.  But is described as a French woman.  In one of Boccaccio's early works called "Vision of Love" his mother's role as a parent was unidentified.  Bocaccio's birthdate would be some time 9 years after his good friend and disciple, Petrarch who was born in 1304.  In 1327, Boccaccio and his family left Florence for market reasons and Boccaccio's lack of interest in the banking business led him to study at the University of Naples.  There, he studied law and worked at his father's bank. While studying at the university, he met many scholars such as Cino da Pistoia who was famous for his comedy works and Dionigi da Borgo San Sepolcro, who inspired him to the sage of Vaucluse.  He also met his good friend Petrarch, whom all contributed to Boccaccio's works.  Not to mention, Calabrian monk Barlaam, who introduced the poet's interest to Greek letters.  With such notable influences, Boccachio gained the skills needed to create the brilliant works throughout his life.
 
THE SUMMARY
THE DECAMERON
         Filostratos’ story is about a woman named Peronella, who hides her lover in the barrel when she realizes her husband is coming home from work.  She tells her husband that she had sold the barrel and that the young man in it is checking to see if it is whole and sound.  When the young Gionnello comes out of the barrel, he makes the poor husband clean it and carry it to his home. Peronella is a beautiful, extraordinary young girl who spins wool to keep busy and earn money.  She meets Gionnello Scrignario a young man whom she falls in love with and together makes passionate love until it was time for her husband to come home from work.  One morning her husband began to knock on the door calling Peronella to answer it.  “Oh Giannel, my love, I’m done for!  It’s my husband!  Get in the barrel over there, and I’ll open the door for him” (423).  Peronella manages to deceive her husband and save herself by telling her husband she is selling the barrel to the young man.  Her husband is proud of her because she manages to sell it for seven silver coins rather than the five coins  that were asked in the beginning.
        Gionnello gets out of the barrel and assures the husband that he is going to purchase it.  To further delay his stay at the house, he requests that someone clean it in order for him to buy it.  Peronella immediately tells her shusband to clean the barrel in order to distract him;  “Scrape here, and here, and also over there, and-see there where you left a little” (425).  Being that Gionello was not yet satisfied, he took it upon himself to fulfill his desires while the man was in the barrel.  When the scraping and cleaning was done, Gionello paid the husband for the barrel and asked him to carry it to his home.
 
 
 
FORNICATION AND ADULTERY
HISTORICAL AND
CULTURAL BACKGROUND
    The term Renaissance, describing the period of European history from the early 14th Century to the late 16th Century, encompasses the rebirth of artistic styles.  The new age began in Padua and other urban areas of Northern Italy in 14th Century. Lawyers and notaries imitated ancient Latin style and studied Roman archaeology. A historical icon of classical heritage was Petrarch, who spent most of his life attempting to understand ancient culture and captured the enthusiasm of popes, princes, and emperors who wanted to learn more of Italy’s past.  Petrarch’s success influenced countless numbers of others to follow literary careers hoping for positions in government and high society. By the 15th century intensive study of ancient Greek and Latin archaeology gave the Renaissance scholars a more sophisticated view of antiquity.  The ancient past was now to be admired and imitated, but not to be revived.
    In the 14th century the concepts applied to contemporary Italian poetry and ancient Roman imagery were done so by Boccaccio who also was also a pioneer in prose writing His most famous book The Decameron written during the period when the Black Death raged throughout Europe. Ranging in plot from farce to tragedy, they are ingeniously united under the supposition of an outing.   According to the author seven ladies and three men left Florence in 1348 to escape the ravages of the plague.  Retiring to a country house, they agreed that, to beguile the time, each person should daily tell a story for ten days.  They were drawn from many sources, including folklore and classical and oriental writers.  But into these stories Boccaccio wove the details of the life of his time.  They are concerned with the world of human things, everyday events that constitute the common experience of mankind.  In them an infinite variety of people from every class of contemporaneous society are portrayed, giving the reader a vivid insight into the life of fourteenth century Italy.
THE PLAGUE
    Throughout the later half of the 14th century Europe underwent an incriminating economic and social depression that indicted the development of urban progress and imposed new forms of organization in social life.  The Black Plague which devastated Europe in the mid-14th Century (1348-1351), reduced its one-third of population, creating embroiled economic conditions.  This significant reduction in the number of laborers and professionals occasioned a severe collapse in the financial structure of the region, but agriculture was put on a sounder basis as unneeded marginal land went out of cultivation.  The recession very pleased Italy just when the urban and trading civilization had reached its highest point of development and the merchants of the principal cities of the peninsula had acquired control of the most important international markets.  The result of this series of catastrophes provided the merchants with a more energetic consciousness of their capability to survive in the face of grave misfortune.
    From the local wars and epidemics that continued one on the heels of another throughout the century, a new system of government was born.  The formation of this original institution advanced in equal measure with the progressive declines in the city-state system in Northern and Central Italy and with the diffusion of Signore, regional governing bodies.  These new governments grew up around wealthy landed individuals and expanded to include the neighboring countryside.
 
 ANALYSIS OF
THE STORY AND CHARACTERS
 The second story of the seventh day is unique in contrast to the others in that from the start it could be easily telegraphed and deeply analyzed. One of the characters who is the husband is foolish, na´ve, and trustworthy while the two others are unscrupulous, dishonest and shrewd. This alone develops and sets the stage for the entire basis of the story. Peronella who is the wife of simpleton is unsatisfied with her marriage and is disgusted with her husband. Peronella who is a liar and a cheat has a secret lover named Giannello Scrignario, a young man from a nearby village. Peronnella usually practices her infidelity with her lover while her unsuspecting husband is at work during the day.
This makes for a climate of lies and deception with cruel and devious intentions.
She has a lot of animosity towards her husband and clearly considers him to be below average and unworthy of her. The husband on the other side of the spectrum feels that his wife is certainly worthy of him and that she is a wife that is way above average.
This is best expressed when he returns back to the home after his wife and her lover are engaged in intercourse inside the locked house: “O God, may you be praised forever, for though you have made me poor at least you have consoled with a good and honest young wife.” P (423) This quote is an example of his devotion and undisputed trust for his wife, which unfortunately is not, reciprocated in any manner whatsoever.
 The secret lover of Peronnella, Giannello, is a young man who is clearly driven by sexual desires and furthermore controlled by the older Peronnella. He is very confident in himself and what he is doing throughout the story. Boccaccio does not give the impression that Ginannello once panics or folds under pressure.
The story gives each character a different quality, which brings all the pieces together. The wife is shrewd and she understands her husband all too well when she bombards him with harsh words when he comes home. The story is also quite excessive because of the three extremes, the potentially jealous and stupid husband, the cheating and cynical wife, and the sex driven lover who only cares about pleasuring himself at any cost. These three personalities combine to present the final analysis and conclusion of the story.
 The quintessential part of the story is when she misguides her husband to believe that she has sold the barrel for two more silver coins than he has. This reinforces his trust for her and reinforces that she is the smarter of the two. The pinnacle is when she convinces her foolish husband to enter the barrel and clean it so that he is distracted while her lover seizes the opportunity to finish what he was doing prior to her husband’s early arrival. The final analysis of the story and characters is that their actions are driven by impulse and disguised by devotion. When they are placed in an uncompromising predicament they rise to the occasion whether for the good or bad.
 
 THE BRIGATA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Works Cited
 
 Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Penguin Group, 1982.
 Brown University.  The Decameron Web.  Andre del Castagno,  Boccaccio, c. 1450.
          http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/dweb.shtml (8 June 1999).
 Brown University. The Decameron Web.  The Decameron.
          http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian Studies/dweb/dec ov/dec ov.html (6 July 1999).
 Brown University.  The Decameron Web.  Fornication and Adultery,
          http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian Studies/dweb/med soc/sex/fornification-adultery.html
          (6 July  1999).
Brown University. The Decameron Web.  The History of Itlay.
          http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/history/hist_2.html (10 June 1999).
 Brown University. The Decameron Web.  The Plague.
         .http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian Studies/dweb/plague/plague.html (6 July 1999).
  WebMuseum, Paris.  The Renaissance In Italy.
          htp://www.oir.ucf.edu/wm/paint/glo/renaissance/ (8 June 1999).