Boccaccio's Negative View of the Christian Church

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Boccaccio's the Decameron is a collection of stories written during the time of the Black Plague in Europe during the 1340's. There are many themes and motifs used in the Decameron. The most interesting motif is the fact that the story is closely bound around people escaping the plague, but none of the stories take any kind of solid religious or political stance. He however, specifically does not take what would be called a Christian point of view on the plague, in fact, he provides a negative view of the Christian church. In part, this indicates that part of the purpose of the Decameron being a fictional work about the plague is not to state that it has come to be because of some divine influence, but rather the purpose of it being to intensify his criticism of the strict ways of the Christian church. In his criticism of the Christian ways, he shows compassion for the suffering of the Florentine people, in the way that the Christian church is holding them back from normal human behavior.

The best story from our readings in the Decameron that exemplifies Boccaccio's negative view of the Christian church was the story about the monk and the abbot. In the story, a monk secretly brings a woman into his dormitory, and proceeds to have relations with her that are forbidden for a monk like himself. The abbot (head of the abbey) happens to come across the monk's room, and eavesdrops on them, finding out the sin the monk had just committed. The abbot decides to return to his room, and wait to see what the monk would do, unaware that the monk had actually just seen the abbot spying on him. In an attempt to create a means of bringing the woman back outside the abbey, the monk goes to the abbot's room, and pretends that he was unaware of the abbot's presence. He asks permission to leave the grounds to complete a task that he was assigned earlier, and leaves the room. The abbot, unawares that he had been seen earlier, heads to the monk's room and finds the...
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