Pursuit of Desire in “the Decameron” and “the Heptameron”

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Cynthia Melkomian
English 101
Juzwiak
November 26, 2012

Topic #19

The pursuit of desire is a major theme in “The Decameron” and “The Heptameron” for they both aim to exhort the protagonist in subtle and symbolic ways. In the tale by Boccaccio concerning Friar Alberto disguised as the Angel Gabriel, the woman both gains and loses. She ultimately wins because she feeds her sexual desires and gains a sense of pleasure she’s never encountered before. This is proved when she says, “…he suddenly took my soul to a place where there was more flowers and roses than ever I saw…where my soul remained until dawn…” (1897). She was obviously enjoying the sex all throughout the night. She receives from Alberto what she desires and is oblivious to the fact that he is not truly an angel. The oblivion is purposeful because it is a minor part of the whole conflict. She is acting witty in her oblivion because when she gives Alberto away like the “empty-pated fool she was,” she actually helps exploit him. Her “stupidity” not only nourishes her sexual desires, but assists in revealing his true identity—as he becomes the laughingstock of the village. On the other hand, loses in the same sense, when she says to the friar, “…my beauty is not to be yielded to the love of anybody” (1895). She understands the value of her beauty and appearance and refuses to hand it over to just anyone. This worth and sense of self she carries of herself—no matter how shallow—is still her principle, which is ruined when she falls for the friar’s lie. She gets the best sex of her life, but through a false illusion of her expectations.

In the story of the noble lord and his lady, the lady tests his undying love by putting him through two trials. She is able to acquire her man’s undying love by exposing him to another girl. He overcomes these temptations and “from that hour on there were no more obstacles and no more trials, and from his lady he received all that his heart could desire” (1928)....
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