In The Decameron, how are the genders and their relationships depicted in the stories?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fascinating question to consider, as the ten narrators of the tales in this volume are made up of seven females and three males. One would suspect, therefore, of there being a definite gender bias in the kind of stories that are told. It appears, however, that the author of these tales was more concerned with reflecting the kind of live, values, society and culture of his day than anything else, and often the tales, even those told by the female narrators themselves, do little to challenge the status quo of gender inequality and more often than not help cement the position of inequality that women experienced.

In "Dioneo's Tale of the Patient Griselda," for example, Griselda is held up as the kind of epitome of women in terms of how she responds and reacts to the massive hardships that are visited upon her to prove her virtue. This is done supposedly by the man who loves her and is her husband, which clearly presents women as figures who can be treated in any way that their husbands or fathers like. It is therefore problematic to treat this text as feminist in any sense.