Oppression Of Women In The Decameron By Giovanni Boccaccio

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In the medieval society in which Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron takes place, women in comparison to men are confined mentally and physically as usual. Similar to almost all societies until the near present, women have not been allowed to hold significant roles in anything besides the home. The only roles that society viewed as appropriate for a woman to have was that of an obedient wife and mother, so women were often oppressed. Boccaccio’s target audience is female readers as he says that men are not weighed down by melancholy because they have ways relieve their minds through various activities such as hunting, fishing, riding, gambling, or even attending a business affair (prologue). The Decameron is written to entertain women and Boccaccio’s…show more content…
In Boccaccio’s The Decameron, many of the tales involve women committing adultery when their husbands could not satisfy their bodies’ needs or desires. He depicts several main female characters to be daring and brave enough to pursue and satisfy their sexual desires. These female characters are not shameful and speak of their needs out in the open in the presence of others. This shows that in Boccaccio’s mind women could think for themselves and did not have to always be submissive. One of the tales that clearly shows this can be found in the seventh story of the sixth day when Madonna Filippa is found to be cheating by her husband and has to appear in court, she makes a bold statement saying, “[I]f he has always taken as much of me as he needed and as much as he chose to take,…what am I to do with the surplus? Throw it to the dogs? Is it not far better…to present it to a gentleman who loves me more dearly than himself?” (464). Madonna Filipa’s argument shows that women are no longer the sex objects of men, and she has realized that her needs are just important as her husband’s. Boccaccio believes that sex is important to maintain a good love relationship, and women have a right to their desires as men…show more content…
Instead of bashing and declaring that women are property possessed by men similar to the typical literature of his time, Boccaccio writes tales in which women are intelligent and witty. Often, rather than women being the subject of laughter, it is the men, their husbands, that are made to look like fools. The seventh day is mainly about how women trick their husbands so that they can have affairs with their lovers. The eighth story, in particular, is a great example. To brief the tale, a suspicious husband watches his wife like a hawk to make sure she is not cheating and never goes to bed until he has put her in bed. The wife utilizes her wit by tying a tread to her foot, so she can caution her lover when her husband comes. Although her secret is discovered, it doesn’t stop her from hatching a scheme with her maid to make a fool of her husband as he caught and beat the maid, who had swapped places in bed with his wife (524-532). Evidently, this story demonstrates women were not afraid to defy their authoritative male counterparts. They desire to have the same rights as men and will do so even if it is through deceit and slyness. Boccaccio’s fight for women and their rights establishes his wish for

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