Theme Of Honor In The Decameron

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Sex & Society: The Problem With Honor
In Boccaccio’s Decameron, there are many themes that exist within his tales, one of these being a theme of Honor. A couple of tales that represent many routes of Honor are the tale of Tancredi and Ghismonda along with the tale of Ricciardo and Caterina. Even though Honor, especially in the Decameron, is an ideal set in place that structures morality, it should be used as a tool of decision instead of a “black and white” standard of life. It is found that each tale portrays a different message about honor, Honor and sexual desire are not mutually exclusive in the world of the Decameron, and how Honor is very malleable and is usually a reflection of society.
First, Honor and sexual desire are not mutually
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In Tancredi and Ghismonda's story, honor is often manipulated Further, Even in Caterina's tale, honor is changed from different situations and families. Ghismonda's father having a more rash reaction compared to Caterina's. When confronted by Tancredi, Ghismonda speaks out and says, "I did not take a lover at random, as many women do, but deliberately chose Guiscardo in preference to any other, only conceding my judgment of us both, I have long been enjoying the gratification of my desires. It seems, however, that you prefer to accept a common fallacy rather than the truth, for you reproach me more bitterly, not for commiting the crime of loving a man, but for consorting with a person of lowly rank, thus implying that if I had selected a nobleman for the purpose, you would not have had anything to worry about. You clearly fail to realize that in this respect, your strictures should be aimed, not at me, but at Fortune, who frequently raises the unworthy to positions of eminence and leaves the worthless in low estate." (pg 338) Ghismonda starts a powerful argument that terminates that pushes a notion further about how easily people construe the meaning of honor. Tancredi condemned Guiscardo because of his social rank and nothing much more. He would rather be right in his misjudgement than accept his morals have been coerced by a situation out of his control- this being Ghismonda in love with the…show more content…
Both tales have positions on honor, which reflect a moral inversion seen within the Decameron. In the tale of Caterina and Ricciardo, the story ends happily due to the fact Riccardo was caught and given a choice by Caterina’s father to either marry his daughter or be killed for romping around with her. While in the tale of Tancredi and Ghismonda, the story ends in tragedy due to a false honor. This honor devised was hidden underneath a layer of jealousy, and debatably, an insinuated desire for Ghismonda by Tancredi himself. Ghismonda also died in Guiscardo’s honor. While Caterina herself does not think much on honor and is, as described by Boccaccio through Filamena, “... women, when left to themselves, are not the most rational creatures, and without the supervision of some man or other, their capacity for getting things done is quite restricted. We are fickle, quarrelsome, suspicious, cowardly, and easily frightened” (pg 62). Ricciardo expresses his respect and fear of their societies version of honor. Ricciardo states, “My lord, in God’s name, have mercy on me. I know that I deserve to die, for I have been wicked and disloyal and hence you must do with with me what you choose. But I beseech you to spare my life, if that is possible. I implore you not to kill me.” (pg 436) Ricciardo acknowledges the social status and his desires. If he did not, his life would have ended there. Honor entails an exchange of
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