The Decameron: Misogynist or Feminist?

2135 Words Jul 4th, 2012 9 Pages
The Decameron: A Feminist or Misogynist text?
Giovanni Boccaccio is one of the leading Italian writers in the 1300s and has been considered as the father of Italian writing style through his composition of one hundred novelle. The Decameron continuously pictures women not as the objects of discussion but as the active producers and interpreters of their actions. Women are portrayed as they are or as they should be; they are shown to be as aggressive as men are while at the same time they can be submissive whenever they need to be. In many instances, Boccaccio depicts women as protagonists who do not readily accept the traditional role – being subservient to men and having no voice in the male-dominated society–, make their own decisions,
…show more content…
In choosing to present the ideas of liberated women to the group, The Decameron becomes important when measured in the context of the queen’s story because her story of Narbonne (IX, III) also depicts a courageous, outspoken woman who defies the traditional role and eventually wins herself a very honorable man. Through the story of Narbonne, the queen brings a narration evocative of the social order from which some women escaped. In the Middle Ages, “[woman were] not allowed a say in the government of the kingdom or of society. [They were] prohibited from holding any political, professional or public office.” (Sandison). It can be inferred that women who tried to influence government officials and make their own decisions received a barrage of criticism in Boccaccio’s era. Some people may attempt to interpret the story of Narbonne as misogynistic because they probably despised women who tried to influence kings or other nobles by acting out of their expected roles. Through the story of Narbonne, however, Boccaccio proves them wrong. In the story, Gilette of Narbonne endeavors to win her lover, Bertrand of Rousillon, by curing the King of France and using her wits to convince Bertrand to acknowledge her as his wife. After curing the King of France, unlike other contemporary women, she demands that the King give her Bertrand as her husband. Moreover, she uses her wits to win her love when she

More about The Decameron: Misogynist or Feminist?

Open Document