Italian Stories = Novelle Italiane Themes

Robert A. Hall, Jr.
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Women's Social Status in Early Italian Literature

The three earliest stories in this collection—the story from "The Decameron," "Belfagor; The Devil Who Took a Wife," and "Madonna Zilia"—all express an essentially misogynistic view of women. In Boccacio's story, it is common knowledge that women ruin magical objects, and thus when Calandrino is seen by his wife, he assumes that she has ruined his magical stone. The way the story is written, this was probably reflective of a belief somewhat common among the superstitious Italian audience for whom he was writing. Even more shocking to a modern reader is Calandrino's reaction: He furiously beats her. Nothing in Boccacio's story passes judgment on Calandrino's action and his silence approves—or, at least, tolerates—violence against women.

Misogyny is clearest in "Belfagor." The story begins with a holy man receiving a vision telling him that wives...

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This section contains 867 words
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Buy the Italian Stories = Novelle Italiane Study Guide
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