In The Decameron, Boccaccio uses tales of deception to capture the merchant culture of quick wit and cleverness, which defies Christian morality and transcends the traditional social classes of the medieval era. In fact, one’s success at deception is often depicted as a form of intelligence. Tricksters are either rewarded or face no significant consequence for their actions, whereas their victims are portrayed as gullible and weak.
In the opening story of San Ciappelletto, Boccaccio presents a man driven by complete wickedness who is “perhaps the worst man that ever was born” (Boccaccio 26). He lies, cheats, steals and commits virtually every sin in the Bible many times over. Yet, despite his life of utter corruption, Ciappelletto is memorialized as a good and “holy man” who lived a devout life (Boccaccio 34). Having succeeded in trickery throughout his career as a lawyer, Ciappelletto saves his ultimate ruse for his deathbed confession when he dupes a friar and is venerated as a saint. Thus Ciappelletyo is rewarded for his deception. He succeeds in both preserving the memory of himself after death, however false this memory might be, and creating the ultimate mockery of the church, which he so deeply reviled during his life. Here, Boccaccio shows the ease of deception through faith and religion. Very few people at that time would dispute a person’s deathbed confession to a man of God, or for that matter the friar’s re-telling of Ciappelleto’s story. Ultimately, because of his wit, Ciappelletto dies a satisfied man who escapes any earthly consequence for his deceptive ways.
In the tale of Andreuccio, deception takes a slightly different form, yet it still leads to a positive end result. While Andreuccio is the ultimate deceiver in this story, he is not portrayed as such in the beginning. Andreuccio is described as a man unfamiliar with the perils of Naples who “had never been away from home before” (Boccaccio 101). Boccaccio falsely leads...
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