The Heptameron

Limitations of Horizon: Ideologies and Love In the Decameron and Heptameron College

At the time that Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron became popular there were numerous similar works in circulation. Readers mainly enjoyed the tales as facile entertainment rather than literature, and most served merely to unconsciously reinforce the dominant ideologies of the time rather than interrogate or challenge them in any way. In light of this, it is unsurprising that the Decameron and Heptameron have remained great while similar works faded to obscurity. Unlike their contemporaries, the authors of these works employ not only superior technical skill throughout but also bring to their works perspectives that differ from the commonly accepted ideologies of their societies and call such conventions into question. Boccaccio, for example, used many of his stories to deconstruct the traditionally accepted social structure. In his eyes, rigid class systems were a social construct that led humanity away from God’s original order, an order that remained apparent through attention to human biology. In the First Story of the Fourth Day, a princess defends herself for taking a lover of a lower class, saying to her father,…consider for a moment the principles of things, and you will see that we...

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