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Griselda. The concept of the patient Griselda is a commonplace of discussion about the Decameron. The manifest content of the story of Griselda and her husband Gualtieri is that the nobleman decides one day that he wants to put his peasant wife to the trial of proving her love for him and then manufactures a series of cruelties designed to have he reject him.

The supposed generosity of Gualtieri would test the patience of any wife, but Griselda simply loves, honors, and obeys her husband. From one point of view her behavior denies her personal dignity and is a foul violation of her humanity, as if it did not exist and as if her dignity--and by extension all wives' dignity--were not at all relevant anyway. In other words, Gualtieri is presented as being totally entitled to behave as he does. From another point of view, however, it does not take a genius reader to figure out that, because Gualtieri oversteps the bounds of decency and violates his own vow to honor his wife, he is placing his emotional life in peril. The reader is left to his own devices to figure out what will happen to the newly reunited family, but it is inconceivable that the happily-ever-after ending can be considered emotionally satisfactory. Even so, Griselda the supposedly unworthy peasant is shown to have the bearing and dignity of a noblewoman who is every bit as worthy to be a nobleman's wife as any high-born lady. If one enters the mind-set of 14th-century Europe, hit by the destabilizing black plague, then it is possible to at least understand that Gualtieri's motive is in part based on a desire to assure himself and society that the nobleman's wife can be relied on to maintain the structures of civilization even in the midst of the most dread consequences. His actions can be interpreted as a way of making sure that there will be no question of the continuity and integrity of the fine family because the wife of that family has the strength and courage to w...

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Griselda. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:12, April 21, 2019, from