What does it mean that Boccaccio directly addresses a female reading public at the outset? How might this invocation — and the predominance of female characters — give us meaningful inroads to discuss gender and gendered bodies in the selections you’ve read so far.
What do you make of the contrast between the morbid plague and the peaceful garden? Is storytelling a form of escape or a form of talk therapy for the brigata, something with salutary effects?
We’ve talked a little bit about the function of theodicy in contexts we’ve examined so far. How could a just God allow such things to be? What explanations might be required to preserve a sense of God’s omnipotence or benevolence? The Decameron also allows us to consider another set of explanations: Fortune.
Fortuna is a classic literary motif that along with wit and love represents one of the main themes of the Decameron. Medieval society was greatly interested in the workings of Lady Fortune. Most of the stories told by the Brigata members entail instances of Fortune because adventures by defintion are usually the product of fateful encounters. Fortune is usually kind in the Novellas, except for Day 4, bringing characters in contact with the right people at the right time, or more often, at the right place at the right time. In some of the stories, the protagonists are able to change the course of fate by using wit, deception or undergoing a clever action to escape harm, punishment or loss of love. In other stories, fate has total control over the characters and dictates the course of the Novella. In the end, Fortune usually brings lovers together either for life, or a few precious nights.
What kind of explanation is this? Just a way to ease survivor’s guilt?
Finally, a question about government. What happens when Pampinea declares it necessary to “choose a leader”? (20). What kind of government does she aim to instate?