The Moral Implications Behind Boccaccio's The Decameron

Topics: Black Death, Morality, The Decameron Pages: 3 (926 words) Published: December 3, 2013
The Moral Implications Behind Boccaccio’s Tales of The Decameron With corpses rotting on the street and crime widespread throughout Europe, Boccaccio began writing The Decameron at the peak of the Black Plague in 1350. During this time, people fled their homes, lost faith in their religions, and abandoned their friends and families in order to seek refuge from the physically and mentally depraving reality of the Black Plague. Boccaccio incorporates the reality of his time during the 14th century into the tales of The Decameron. In his book, seven people seek refuge from the Black Plague in the countryside, where they immerse themselves in song, dance, food, and storytelling for ten days. The stories they tell are simple, but each story consists of a specific moral implication that reflects how society began to disintegrate during the Black Plague, and how morality, the standard code of conduct that society creates to minimize the harm humans can suffer, was questioned in the face of chaos. The first tale of the Decameron is told by Panfilo who presents a character by the name of Ser Cepparello, “…probably the worst man that ever lived!” and goes on to show the reader that our beliefs and morals are not as solid as we would like to believe (Dec., 1.1.27)1. In Panfilo’s tale, while Ser Capparello, also known as Ciappelletto, was on his death bed, he tricks a friar into thinking that his life was pure. The friar goes on to preach about Cepparello’s life as a moral example for others to follow, establishing him as a holy man and a saint. With his tale, Panfilo encourages the reader to look beyond appearances and to use intelligence to apprehend the hidden workings of divinity in order to prevent inaccurate notions about them. He expresses this message when he says, “it sometimes happens that, deceived by popular opinion, we choose as an advocate before His majesty one who is sentenced by Him to eternal exile… He… pays more attention to the purity of one who prays”...
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