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Cantebury Tales Vs The Decameron Essay, Research Paper

There are many different roles for women shown in “The Canterbury Tales” and “The Decameron”. Both books take place around the same time frame, 1300AD. “The Canterbury Tales”, takes place in London, England and “The Decameron” takes place in Florence, Italy. It would be just to think that since both books take place in a western civilization, both books would reflect the same morals and daily life styles. This is not the case at all. Throughout this paper I will attempt to show how these two books portrayed a totally different lifestyle.

In “The Decameron”, by Giovanni Boccaccio, the rolls of men and women are what you would expect of a western society in the 1300’s. Women are generally seen as gentle beings that were somewhat na?ve. There was a very distinct line that separated men from women. Through out the stories I noticed a consistent story line of women being very loyal to their men. The men would end up doing terrible things to the woman. In some cases the husbands would actually put the wife through massive suffering and not even think a thing of it. The women seemed to just take what was thrown at them. They had no say in what went on, and they were to deal with the actions of their male friends, lovers, or relatives. For example on page seventy-nine of “The Decameron”, there is a story about a girl that is having a love affair with a man. When her father walks in on her and her lover in bed together, he takes action out of vengeance and kills her lover. He then sends the heart in a golden goblet to his daughter. The daughter then out of extreme sadness, fills the cup with her tears and a poisness solution and drinks it leaving herself dead. This story effectively shows the rolls that are placed upon women in this time and era. The women in this story were expected to, and dealt with her fathers’ decision. She did not try to stop him. I do not think that she would have been able to stand up to him. It seems that women in this time really did not have a place in the male world. Everything was male dominated and all actions done by a male were certainly not to be questioned by a female. In “The Canterbury Tales”, the roles that society gave males and female was much different.

Throughout my reading of “The Canterbury Tales”, I noticed that the roles society placed upon men and women were much different than that of “The Decemaron”. In this culture men were seen as naive and gullible. Women did not have a direct role over the men of society, but behind the scenes of public life, women ruled over men. It was not that men were powerless, it was that men were just tuned out to what was going on and let themselves be manipulated. For example in the story titled “The Millers Tale”, the husband appeared to just be blind to the fact he was being cheated on. His wife had been having a sexual affair with a man that was basically living in with the family. Over time, she manipulated both of the men into doing things she wanted. She had total control over both of them and neither of them suspected a thing. The wife had her secret lover tell her husband a great flood was coming. She did this hoping that he would leave and she could continue her life with the other man. When her husband heard of this he thought only of his wife’s safety. He was totally blind to what had been going on the whole time. He put lots of effort into constructing things that can be used as boats, and storing supplies for the time when this great flood comes. This plainly shows the domination his wife had over him and the other man. Women are portrayed as masters of manipulation and the men just go along with whatever is going on never suspecting a thing.

“The Decameron”, by Giovanni Boccaccio and “The Canterbury Tales”, by Geoffrey Chaucer, show two very different societies. These societies live life much differently. The roles of men and women are completely opposite in these two books. It is amazing to see how different two areas of the western civilization can be. This shows that there were different cultures and beliefs in the western world. From reading these two books you only grasp a view of two cultures that are in different areas of Europe. I am sure that from reading other civilizations books, we can find even more cultural differences in the western world.

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