Decameron: Devastations of the Black Death
Giovanni Boccaccio was the writer of the book Decameron, in which he thoroughly describes the tragedies and horror the Black Death plague brought about. Black Death was a fatal sickness that was wide spread from the East to the West. The plague started in about the 1330s and continued into most of the 1400s; however there were instances still occurring in the 1600s until the end of the eighteenth century (Coffin 312). The plague was later said to have come from infected fleas that travel on the backs of rats. Once it is in your blood stream it is almost instant death within a matter of hours (Coffin 316). This disease was rapidly killing everyone, while there were speculations as to how one would contract the disease; neither doctors nor medical specialist knew (Brophy 323). There was no cure and quite frankly no one was safe. The public, experiencing the rise of Black Death during that time period, had a reason to worry and be frightened. This fear thus caused the reactions that Boccaccio speaks of in his book, Decameron. Boccaccio starts off his passage being particularly considerate of women’s feelings on the tragedies of the Black Death. He assures them that he does not want them to relive or think about the memories they are left with or “to pass all of [their] time sighing and weeping as [they] read” (Brophy 321) but he wanted to put an end to their misery. After reading that short introduction, you can sense that he is going to give his firsthand account of very graphic detail that he experienced in surviving the Black Death, in which he does exactly this. Boccaccio discusses the public, acting in four very different ways, however he states “…almost all of them took a very cruel attitude in the matter” (Brophy 323). The first response of some was, to “completely avoid the sick and their possessions” (Brophy 323). This group felt that was the best way to protect themselves. They assembled together and...
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