Essay about The Sixth Day of The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio

Essay about The Sixth Day of The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio

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In Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, each day is foucused around a theme, which the members of the lieta brigata seek to incorporate into that day’s stories (with the exception of Dioneo). For the sixth day, the theme is decided to be people who employ a witticism to escape punishment or discomfort. To convey this message, many of the tales employ the usage of a bon mot, or a brief, humorous phrase. Throughout this day, unsightly persons, frequently employ the bon mot, which contrasts their wit with their less than desirable appearances. In addition to this, people of inferior rank are often shown to be more intelligent, and make better use of the bon mot than their masters, or other noble persons. All of these uses of wit go to show to the power of words, which is a recurring theme throughout the Decameron. In the sixth day of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, the lieta brigata tells stories wherein the characters escape humiliation or pain by means of a witticism. This theme is summed up in the use of the bon mot and people of less than desirable appearance, and of a lower class often uses the use of this device; all of these things go to show the power of words.
This power of words is most often shown in the sixth day through the use of the bon mot. A bon mot (literally French for “good word”) is a witticism used at the right moment, which often provides a humorous comment to the goings-on in a story. The sixth day of the Decameron specifically focuses on the use of the bon mot by a character to escape unpleasantness or punishment. Although the bon mot is central to all stories in the sixth day, Chichibio perhaps best exemplifies the use of the bon mot in the fourth story. When Chichibio’s position as chef is threatened, “in some...


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... who are of ugly appearance or lesser rank, perhaps to level the playing field in life. Boccaccio uses Fortune’s gift of wit to members of lesser rank to upset the social order of his time, and to display his encouragement of women to realize themselves as independent persons. Finally, Boccaccio teaches us that the power of words ties the creator of the words with his creation, and allows him to better himself through practice. In the sixth day of Boccaccio’s Decameron, all of the uses of words, especially the use of the bon mot, allow persons of various appearances and ranks to realize the power of words and use them to escape physical or emotional torment.



Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Trans. G.H. McWilliam. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1972. Print.
Ferrante, Joan M., “Narrative Patterns in the Decameron.” Romance Philology May 1978. Web.

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