Analysis of Giovanni Boccaccio´s Decameron

2081 Words9 Pages
Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron is a series of tales written during the Late Middle Ages that is meant to entertain the reader. While the entertainment value of Boccaccio’s work in undeniable, the Decameron also provides the reader with information about society at the time, and Boccaccio’s own worldview. One of the most prevalent themes throughout the Decameron is the portrayal of clergymen and members of religious communities as negative influences on those around them, constantly behaving in a manner unfit for those who are supposed to be moral and spiritual exemplars. Throughout the tales told by the lieta brigada, many priests, and friars are portrayed as being extremely lustful and greedy, frequently indulging in sex (often with the wives of other men), and living lives more befitting of a minor lord than a monk. Those clergymen who are not portrayed as out rightly immoral are usually stupid, and are unable to stop others from acting immorally because of their ignorance. Despite this, a few of the clergymen in the story are shown as ultimately having good intentions, or improving in morality through the actions of another. To understand all of these criticisms of the clergy, we must look at them through a historical lens, and observe the behavior of members of the Church in the Late Middle Ages. Finally, these analyses of the Decameron’s portrayal of clergymen may give us insight into Boccaccio’s own faith, and allow us to understand the motives of the author. In this essay, I will analyze the portrayal of clergymen and members of religious communities in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. I will focus on the licentiousness, greed, and stupidity of these members of the Church, while also evaluating the few portrayals of good me... ... middle of paper ... ...h Giovanni Boccaccio’s comments in the Decameron may be interpreted as anticlerical, his portrayal of clerics is fitting of many members of the clerical and religious state in the Late Middle Ages. Through this analysis, and Boccaccio’s support of the Church through the story of Abraham the Jew, Boccaccio in fact seems to be devoted to the Church, and seeks to reform it through his suggestions. Works Cited Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Trans. G.H. McWilliam. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1972. Print. Haas, Louis. “Boccaccio, Baptismal Kinship, and Spiritual Incest.” Renaissance and Reformation. Toronto: Victoria University, 2012. Web. Lea, Henry Charles. History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church. London: Williams & Norgate, 1907. Web. Schaff, Phillip. History of the Christian Church. Vol. VI, §73. 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Hendrickson, 2006. Web.

More about Analysis of Giovanni Boccaccio´s Decameron

Open Document