Is Griselda the ideal woman in Boccaccio's Decameron?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Griselda in Boccaccio's Decameron is an interesting character. In some ways she embodies the female ideal of a loving wife who endures mistreatment and is eventually rewarded. In this sense, she is also an ideal Christian, turning the other cheek when mistreated, and possessing the value of humility. On the other hand, the virtue of submission in Christianity, and in Christian marriage, is based on the notion of submission to the will of a just, omniscient, and benevolent God. In this tale, however, Griselda is a poor woman enduring mistreatment by an unjust husband for her own economic gain. Thus the story becomes almost a satire on the notion of Christian humility, suggesting that submission to the corrupt Catholic Church or to the unjust husband, becomes mercenary, as the corruption of church and marriage both pervert the essential goodness that God gave his creation of both institutions. In  other words, it is only possible to be a genuinely ideal woman in an ideal world, and the world of the Decameron is a fallen one.