The Decameron

Gender Roles in The Decameron College

Giovanni Boccaccio’s medieval work of art The Decameron highlights both the righteous and sinful ways of humans, through the telling of short stories. Boccaccio’s tales cover a wide array of topics, including adultery, love, devotion, trickery, and attributes of selfish and selfless people. Many commend Boccaccio because of his courage to shine a spotlight upon the distasteful aspects of medieval life, specifically the impartialness to extramarital affairs. Boccaccio’s Decameron provides a lens into medieval life which was greatly separated by gender disparities, economic divides, and contrasts in social status.

Gender disparities are a very significant portion of Boccaccio’s writing, and the different portrayals of men and women are obvious. In the society that The Decameron takes place in, women have been trapped in a lower social standing than men. Yet, Boccaccio demonstrates that a woman’s lack of social standing does not influence her levels of control in any sort of relationship. In fact, women seem to have an upper hand in many aspects of male-female relationships. For example, Ghismonda’s relationship with her father Tancrede in Day IV portrays a bond which the female holds power over the male. Ghismonda, disheartened...

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