Checkpoint 1

Boccaccio, The Decameron
  • 14th century: Italian collection of short stories. Those in this unit are related to disability.

Checkpoint 2

Summary of text:

In Boccaccio’s The Decameron, I decided to focus on Day 2, Story 1 and Day 3, Story 1. On Day 2, Story 1, this tale is about a man named Martellino who travels with his friends Stecchi and Marchese to Treviso. When they arrived in Treviso citizens were all running about due to a saint that had just passed. Everyone wanted to see the saint’s body inside the Cathedral so the church was packed tight with people. But, that did not stop Martellino and his friends. Martellino came up with this wild idea that he would pretend to be a cripple in order to enter the church. He planned to have each of his friends hold him on each side so he could be healed by the saint. People, of course, moved out of their way and allowed Martellino to be basically on top of the saint in order for him to benefit from contact with the holiness. Martellino faked that the was cured and fooled everyone around him that the saint has cured him, but there was a Florentine who recognized Martellino once he stopped pretending to be a cripple and exposed him in front of everyone. Everyone started to kick, and fight Martellino so his friends feeling helpless decide to help him by going to the Podesta (Chief Magistrate) and said that there was a crook who stole their purse. Martellino was then taken by a dozen watchmen and brought in front of a judge asking if he stole the purse. Martellino begged for mercy because the judge wanted to have him hung. Martellino told the judge the whole story the judge decided to let the three of them return home safely to Florence.

In Day 3, Story 1 it is a tale about a young laborer named Masetto who was young and attractive. After talking to this man Nuto, Nuto told Masetto how he worked in the garden for the convent and told him how life was working for them. Masetto immediately wanted to work in the garden and be surrounded by nuns, but he decided to make himself look like a poor man and pretend to be a deaf-mute because he did not think he would get the job otherwise due to being too attractive. Masetto got the job and was pampered because they wanted to make sure he would stay because the steward told the Abbess that since he is deaf-mute they wouldn’t have to worry about him fooling around with the nuns. As Masetto was working, the nuns came on to him because they believed he was a deaf-mute. They wanted to lose their virginity, and they thought this was the perfect way to do it because he could not tell anyone. The Abbess even took Masetto to her own room. Masetto finally spoke to the Abbess explaining he cannot continue to offer his services to all nine of the nuns and if she wanted him to stay she needed to solve this problem. The Abbess was shocked that Masetto talked and believed his story that he wasn’t born a deaf-mute, he acquired it because of an illness but now he no longer is deaf-mute. In order to save the reputation of the convent, the Abbess decided to make Masetto their steward, because the previous steward has recently died. Masetto became old and was eager to return home, so he got permission to go home and returned home a rich old man, who had numerous children but left them at the convent so he did not have to feed them or raise them.

Annotated Bibliography:

Decameron Web,
This website provided by Brown University which is credible therefore, I found it to be extremely helpful in my search. I found a specific tab themes and motifs that helped me further understand the meaning of The Decameron as a whole and the specific days. Brown University points out how Day 2 is specifically about Fortuna (fortune). They talk about how fortune “is one of the three fundamental Forces (or Laws) that rule over the world of the Decameron” and how all of the forces are “the subject of a radical cultural transformation in Medieval mentality.” I like how they mention the rest of the tales and how each story coincides together because, before I talked to Dr. T, I had no idea that was the case, so I enjoy how they mentioned that for others who read the Decameron for the first time and may not have realized that. I enjoy how in this tab they pose questions for the audience to think about during their reading of the Decameron, for example, “how Fortune is viewed from a “gender” point of view.” After the question that is asked, there are examples provided of how they thought of it or examples of what to think. I found this to be very helpful and gave me something else to think about in regards to Day 2 as a whole, I wish that there could have been a tab for each specific story, but I think it is also better this way so I can formulate my own thoughts.

This website also provided tabs for themes and motifs how the garden is important in Day 3. It mentions how “the garden is the symbolic place where Nature and human Ingenuity (instinct, desire, and industria) join together” this makes perfect sense in correlation with Day 3 referencing desire, and instinct. I enjoy how they mention specifically the symbolism of the garden and how it relates to layers upon layers of the story. Reading this gave me a much better understanding of Day 3 and made me look at the story in a new light. Also, the format mimics the format used to describe the themes and motifs for Day 2 which I appreciated.

Kulshretha, Sujay. “Giovanni Boccaccio’s ‘The Decameron’ and the Roles of Men and Women.” Inquiries Journal, 1 Dec. 2010,

This article is written by a student, but it is published on this website that is peer-reviewed and then published. This source gave me a lot to think about, specifically the roles and men of women. In Day 2, Story 1 we don’t really encounter any women, which I find interesting. It made me think of different questions to ponder for that specific story about the lack of women in this story. I think this article is best for Day 3, Story 1. This article talks specifically about Day 3, Story 1 and about Masetto’s actions and how women are more sexual than men are. Also, how Boccaccio made women “stronger, more lustful, and more cunning.” The author is very persuasive and provides evidence for each claim that is made and brings in specific evidence from the Decameron where women may outshine men or what may have been the downfall. This article flows smoothly and is a very easy read and it helps me immensely in my research. Kulshrestha focuses equally on both men and women, which I think is extremely important in order to understand both sexes and both point of views. This is a helpful article for me to use and even though it focused a lot on Day 3 it did raise points for me to think about on Day 2, which I didn’t previously think about.

Cioffari, Vinenzo. “The Conception of Fortune in the Decameron.” Italica, vol. 17, no. 4, 1940, (129-137)

In this article, it is from 1940 and is in the American Association of Teachers of Italian. It is based on the conception of fortune in the Decameron. I think fortune is present on Day 2, and I picked this article because the previous article I chose focused more on Day 3, but did give insight for my reading of Day 2. Fortune is present in Day 2, and I think this article is persuasive and highlights the primary function of Fortune in the Decameron, “Fortune is to determine the outcome of a course of action: to help toward a successful accomplishment if Fortune is favorable or to prevent it from taking place if unfavorable” (130). The only thing that I dislike about this article is, even though the article itself is written in English, when they quote from the Decameron they decided to keep it in Italian. It makes sense because it was published by the American Association of Teachers of Italian, but I think everything should have been translated into English. At the same time, this could be helpful so I am allowed to choose my own quotations and come up with my own authentic idea. Cioffari only mentions his point of view though and what he thinks Fortune means. He doesn’t really bring up another side of the argument which I wish could have been done. Although, how he mentions Fortune allows me to apply it to further understand my reading and make my own interpretation out of it.

Critical Analysis/Close Reading:

Day 2, Story 1

“My lord, they’re lying through their teeth, and I can prove it! The truth is that I’ve never set foot inside this town – and I wish I’d never done so – until just a little while ago, and the moment I arrived, I went to see the body of this saint, where I had the bad luck to get a thorough shellacking, as you can see for yourself.” (48).

This quote is at the very end when Martellino is trying to beg the judge to set him free because he has been accused of taking a purse from his friends. I think this story is very ironic Martellino goes there with his friends and tries to see the saint in order to receive some sort of good fortune from him and pretends to be a cripple in order to do so. Instead of receiving the good fortune he so desperately wanted, his friends accuse him of stealing in order to stop him from getting beat, and instead of being punished for lying and pretending to be a cripple in order to get to the saint, he is being punished for something he didn’t even do. This quote is outlining how Martellino is fighting for his freedom and how so much went wrong in such a short of time due to his actions. He is realizing that this trip now turned into trouble mentioning his “bad luck.” I think this quote is important to the story as a whole because it is the only point where is shows ‘some’ remorse of what he did by saying he has bad luck (bad fortune). I do wish that something else happened to him though instead of being set free at the end of the story to go back home with his friends, but I think he did learn somewhat of a lesson by reflecting on what has happened in the short period of time since he has been there. A question that I thought of after reading Brown Universities page and Cioffari’s article is; what would the outcome have been if Martellino was a woman?

Day 3, Story 1

“Sometimes when I was working in the vegetable garden, one of them would say, ‘Put this here,’ and another would say, ‘Put that here,’ and yet a third would snatch the hoe from my hand and tell me, ‘You’re doing it all wrong.’ And they’d make themselves such a pain that I’d stop working and leave the garden.” (94).

This quote is said by Nuto in the very beginning with he meets Masetto. He is explaining his experience working for the nuns in the convent and how it was nothing but trouble in the garden. From reading Brown University's page about the garden's symbolism of “fulfillment of sexual or amorous desire through ingenuity” (Decameron Web). You can tell the women are flustered and their sexual desires are not being fulfilled. This is also foreshadowing how it may not work out for Masetto like it didn’t work out for Nuto. Brown University also mentions the garden also symbolizes storytelling, so it is interesting how Nuto, tells the story of his experience at the convent with the nuns in the garden and how controlling they were. Also, mentioning how many women were there watching him as he worked and how they each had something to say it is showing us the many different personalities and many different desires that are not being fulfilled. I think having this in the beginning works and gives a deeper level to the story especially when you understand the multiple layers of the garden and how the garden will be a main part of the story.

“My lady, it’s my understanding that one cock is enough for ten hens, but that ten men will have a hard time satisfying one woman, and yet, it’s my job to offer my services to no fewer than nine of them. Well, there’s no way in the world I can keep it up any longer, and as a matter of fact, from doing what I’ve been doing up to now, I’ve reached the point where I can’t do just about anything anymore. So, you should either say good-bye to me and let me go, or find some way to solve this problem” (97).

This quotation is at the end of the story when Masetto is talking to Abbess about how he cannot sexually satisfy all of the women that have been coming to him, including her. This is also the first time Masetto has spoken to anyone in the convent because he has presented himself as a deaf-mute. What I find is interesting in this quotation is, how in the beginning Masetto who wanted to go to the convent specifically dressed poor because he knew he would be too attractive to get in and be with all these women, is now complaining that the women are too much for him and he cannot satisfy all of their needs. When the first woman comes to him he goes with the flow and is patiently waiting for them to approach him, so is it surprising that now he is saying this is too much for him. This also is reiterating what I read in Kulshretha’s article about the roles of men and women. It very much is showing me in this quote that the women have the power. At the end, he is giving the Abbess the choice of what to do with him and is not saying I am leaving this is too much he is asking what do you want to do with me and I think that is another implication of how women are stronger and they get to control what happens with him and Masetto is perfectly okay with that.

Checkpoint 3


Ciabattoni, Francesco. “Decameron 2: Filomena’s Rule between Fortune and Human Agency.”, Annali d’italianistica 31 (2013).

In this article, what I found intriguing is how Ciabattoni starts off the very first paragraph saying, “Boccaccio’s masterwork from a unifying perspective, we must keep in mind that the partition of the narrative unities does not coincide perfectly with the thematic and fictional unities.” I found this to be interesting because I thought that each part was supposed to perfectly coincide. So, I was interested in reading this article because it had a different point of view than what I had. Ciabattoni talks about the human causes of misfortune, specifically with Martellino in Day 2. Mentioning how Martellino is, “overconfident about their own abilities, they underestimate the dangers of the situation” (180). Then continues on page 181 to mention how that relates to the book as a whole and how each day coincides with each other. “…by contrast, Boccaccio reminds us that playing with people’s belief in miracles is a risky activity, through a situation in certain respects analogous to that of Ciappelletto, at the story’s beginning and through a textual link connecting the two tales” (181). I found this part of mentioning how each day coincides to contradict with what was first mentioned in the article which confused me. But, I do enjoy how Ciabattoni throughout mentions one thing and then provides the other side as well, because he is leaving it up to you to decide how you interpret the reading. Ciabattoni is a professor at Georgetown University leaving this scholar article to be credible.

Cottino-Jones, Marga. “Desire and the Fantastic in the Decameron: The Third Day.” Italica, vol. 70, no. 1, (1993).

In this article, Cottino-Jones focuses on how desire and the fantastic play a role in the third day in the Decameron. Majority of the articles that I have looked at focus on Day 2, so, this article gave me great insight on Day 3 opening my eyes to things I didn’t think about yet. Specifically, I enjoyed how Cottino-Jones focuses on the “mimetics” how it shapes the third day, and how “the first story is an excellent example of such a playful interaction of levels of discourse and meaning.” (p 5). I didn’t think that there was much of a debate on the third day or take much note of the opening paragraph until reading Cottino-Jones comments about how, “the storyteller thus provides his audience with a clear explanation of his intention to subvert the established beliefs of a given society through the representation of ways and views of life, which will turn out to be rather unexpected and supposedly abnormal, particularly for convent life” (p 5). In my own reading, I focused on Masetto and the interaction with the nuns. Reading this article opened my eyes to the importance of the opening and exactly what the purpose is. I am quite surprised that I overlooked this part, but it added another layer to my analysis. I also enjoy the connection of desire on the third day, which is what I focused on for the previous checkpoint. Cottino-Jones mentions, “this connection between male desire and lack of speech is particularly relevant here, as it points at the category of subversiveness that is essential to the fantastic and which we have already found in Masetto’s reaction to Nuto’s view of the nuns” (p 7). In other articles, it mentioned how women were more sexual than men; so it is interesting to read from this perspective the male role in this story. Although I do find this article useful, I dislike how when quoting the Decameron Cottino-Jones decided to keep it in Italian. I wish it was written in English so I knew exactly what quotes were being pulled from the text in order to add to my analysis. Marga Cottino-Jones is an accredited source, as this was published by the American Association of Teachers of Italian.

Barolini, Teodolinda. “The Wheel of the Decameron.” Romance Philology 36.4 (1983): 521-39.

*Found this in Ciabattoni’s work cited page.
I enjoyed Barolini’s article because it focuses on how the Decameron works as a whole. I wish that this would have been the first article that I read because it truly shows “the wheel” and how each day works together. Also, what was happening during this time period historically and explaining why Boccaccio chose to do what he did: “It is in the wake of this analysis of its citizens’ behavior that Boccaccio outlines the city’s moral degeneracy…” (523). Barolini mentions a day, he also mentions what it means on a different day as well. “As Days I-III effect the brigata’s recovery of ingengo, so the tragic love of Day IV, offset by the happy love of Day V, effects their recovery of compassione.” (526). I don’t think this article is useful to help me with the specific days that I have chosen to focus on, but it does help understand the work as a whole which is obviously important. I’ve also accepted the fact that the references are in Italian in this article as well as the others that I have looked at.

There are various trends among scholars that stood out to me. Scholars seem to be concerned with how the days in the Decameron coincide with each other (Barolini), gender roles (Ciabattoni, Cottino-Jones, Kulshretha), fortune (Cioffari, Decameron Web), and symbolism (Decameron Web). Specifically, fortune in Day 2, and symbolism with the garden on Day 3. Also, gender roles in both days and how they are portrayed in specific stories. The scholars also mention the background for this time period and how this influences Boccaccio’s writing (Barolini). The trends mentioned are what I also was curious when I first read the Decameron so it was interesting to see what the scholars had to say with their specific evidence from the text. The scholars are very clear on what they think about these specific trends, but some also give another side not just being biased and forcing their opinion on you which I enjoyed. They present what they think of a specific quote from the text and then present their side, but also mention other sides as well. Barolini mentions how everything works as a whole and also how it may not work. Ciabattoni throughout mentions one point and then provides the other side as well, leaving it up to you to decide how you interpret the reading. Kulshrestha focuses equally on both men and women which I think is extremely important in order to understand both sexes and both point of views. Of course, not every single scholar did that specific form. Some of the scholars presented evidence and then what they thought about it. Cioffari only mentions his point of view and what he thinks Fortune means and doesn’t really bring up another side of the argument. Cottino-Jones mentions her side of the argument, but her examples are very persuasive, leading to me not feeling as if she was trying to force her opinion on me.


A question that has occurred to me about my texts as I have completed my research would be: How does each day coincide with each other, specifically Day 2 and 3? What themes are relevant in each day that make them coincide? Ciabattoni mentions in the beginning of his article that the partition of the narrative unities does not coincide perfectly with the thematic and fictional unities when I think that it does. I think Boccaccio was very articulate about everything he chose to add in the tales and wanted everything to coincide together, so I would like to explore the cohesiveness between Day 2 and Day 3. In checkpoint two, the Decameron Web gave informative insight on how the days coincide and what symbols in the text make them coincide with each other. So, I think looking at what specific symbols are mentioned in each day making the tale flow. Also, Sujay Kulshretha mentioned in her article the roles of men and women and I think it would be interesting to look at how the roles of men and women are the same and differ in each day, and looking if there are even any women present. I found each article to be useful in my research and added multiple layers to my understanding of the text so I am excited to apply this to my own analysis.

Checkpoint 4:

The purpose of this research paper is to explore how the theme of Fortune is portrayed differently for men and women in Boccaccio’s famous Decameron specifically, in Day 2, Story 1 and Day 3, Story 1. These two stories appear different and scholars do not seem to reference the two when mentioning how Fortune is presented differently among genders, but that is what I intend to do. The Decameron Web defines Fortune to be influenced by love, ingenuity, and reason. The Decameron Web also referred to it as “the Wheel of Fortune," some suffering great misfortune, others gaining. By taking this definition of Fortune and examining what various scholars in the field have said in regards to this topic, I have come to my own conclusion that Fortune works out in favor of men rather than women. Boccaccio portrays women to start out with fortune, especially in Day 3, Story 1, but in the end fortune favors the men by men always getting more than what they had bargained for. I intend to prove this argument by referencing what the various scholars have noted throughout their own research, and reflect on my close readings of the two stories. For example, scholar Ferrante notes in her article "Narrative Patterns in the Decameron," talks about how Masetto in Day 3, "get what they want, although sometimes it is more than they bargained for..." (Ferrante 592) and how his use of deception is how he succeeds. I also intend to mention Thomas M. Greene and how his article “Forms of Accommodation in the Decameron" argument that it is only sometimes fortune that divides the two genders, "but in the best stories, more commonly and more suggestively by some human manipulation guided by the intelligence” ( Greene 301), his argument added another layer to my research. It is interesting to note that scholars have been looking into the theme of Fortune since Boccaccio wrote the Decameron until today. This prominent topic is what initially drew me in to conduct this research paper and come up with my own conclusion.

Annotated Bibliography:

Ferrante, Joan M. “Narrative Patterns in the Decameron,” Romance Philology 36:4 (1983): p. 521-539.

I was excited to finally receive this article because many scholars have referenced Ferrante in their works. The structure of this article makes it an easy read,Ferrante goes through each day and explains the narrative pattern and what story it coincides with. Ferrante mentioned for Day 2 how the focus is “the operations of fortune or providence” and Day 3 “fortune with the aid of the human subject, man working with providence” (586), this reiterates what other scholars have said in regards to fortune within the Decameron. I enjoyed how Ferrante went further than just saying the theme of fortune is present in Day 2 and Day 3. When Ferrante mentions each Day and Story, she presents it in multiple different ways in order to help further your understanding. For example, she mentions in Day 2 Story 1, “he gets in trouble for no purpose, simply out of exuberance, or mischievousness, and is saved through no action of his own…” (589), then in the next paragraph says how this story “deals with a blasphemous act, a fake miracle that mocks a saint” (589). Each point she makes is saying basically the same thing but she is presenting it in a different way in order to deepen your comprehension of the text. What I also found interesting about her mention of Day 2 Story 1 is how theft occurs in this story. I personally did not read this story with theft being the main theme; so, I thought it was interesting how Ferrante did view it as a main theme and it added another layer to my analysis of the text. Moving onto Day 3 Story 1, Ferrante presents this day as, “people get what they want, although sometimes it is more than they bargained for…” (592), Day 3 I viewed as deceit and how faking a disability is used in order to get what they want; I didn’t think of it as people getting more than they bargained for (which is true I just didn’t view it that way). But, she does continue on to say deception is what makes the achievements successful and theme of disguise is prominent. I enjoyed reading Ferrante’s article and I see why so many scholars cited her in their works. Also, throughout her article she has charts with a brief description on how the days and stories are similar, I found this to be extremely helpful in order to connect the work as a whole.

Ferrante, Joan M. “The Frame Characters of the Decameron: A Progression of Virtues” Romance Philology, 1965, 19, 212-226.

I found this article that Ferrante wrote to be much different than the previous one (as it should be), but I still enjoyed it. This article Ferrante focuses on each of the frame characters for each Day in the Decameron and the subject matter that the frame character chooses for that Day. This helped further my analysis because I did not think of how the frame characters take part in the Day(s) as a whole, I focused primarily on the Story that I chose. Ferrante mentions for Day 2 Filomena rules and “the subject matter she chooses for the second day is an encouragement to hope: men troubled by misfortune, who end happily, beyond their hopes” (217) Ferrante expands on this by giving the reasoning on why Filomena chose misfortune and how it connects to each Story in this Day. Ferrante after explanations puts in parenthesis which Story(s) in Day 2 she is referencing to when making a comment and I enjoyed that she did that because other scholars have not. She is very clear and concise and makes sure to include exactly what she is talking about so there is no room for us to question what she is implying. For Day 3, Neifile rules, “the stories they tell on this day have one important point in common beyond the stated subject: they all describe the pursuit and acquisition of love or a lover” (219) “she promises in her first story to show God’s kindness even in putting up with the sins of his priests, and she does this in order that the others may follow what they believe” (219). These two quotes made me think about this story in a new light because before I was just focusing on what they all did wrong, not so much about God putting up with sins. I think this article structurally is very clear and easy to follow like the previous article, but the content is much different. I enjoyed reading the two works from Ferrante as both were cited from various scholars, proving to be a credible source, so I am glad I finally got my hands on them with the help of Renee during our endeavor.

Tumanov, Vladimir. "One Adam and Nine Eves in Donald Siegel's the Beguiled and Giovanni Boccaccio's 3:1 of the Decameron." Neophilologus 98.1 (2014): 1-12. ProQuest. Web. 5 Dec. 2017.

This article Tumanov it is comparing another work to Boccaccio’s Decameron Day 3, Story 1. Although I did not know the other story being referenced, it was still nice to be able to read Day 3, Story 1 in comparison to another story. Tumanov focuses on Masetto’s fortune and how this situation worked out in his favor. He writes, “the male is initially involved with the female rank and file, but eventually, the head woman finds out what has been happening behind her back and intervenes. This intervention ends well for Boccaccio’s Masetto…” (4), this note made me think on a deeper level how this situation works out in Masetto’s favor. In the beginning of the story it seems as if the woman hold all of the good fortune because of the lives they live and they are “in control” of Masetto in a way because they believe he is a deaf-mute. But Tumanov brought an interesting point in my mind which is, did the woman really have any control of their fortune in the Decameron? Or was it just made to seem like they did. Masetto’s life turns out extremely well after he confides in the Abbess and once he hits his old age and wants to return home, he can; leaving all of his children behind with the nuns at the convent. This article is also more present than the other articles that I have chosen throughout my annotated bibliographies so it was interesting to read how the theme of fortune in the Decameron has developed over time. In my search on google scholar this article did not come up, but when going online to the library website it is the second journal article that came up in regards to fortune in the Decameron, proving to be a credible source. I found it interesting that I have not came across this article, I wish I found it earlier in my research because it added another layer that I have not really thought of.

Argument AGAINST scholarly articles:

“Forms of Accommodation in the Decameron.” Italica, vol. 45, no. 3, 1968, pp. 297–313. JSTOR, JSTOR,

In this article Greene argues that, “the story ends with the working out of a tougher, less vulnerable stability. How is it worked out? How is the absorption managed? Sometimes by Fortune, but in the best stories, more commonly and more suggestively by some human manipulation guided by the intelligence” (301). Greene does not thing that fortune is the main cause of why the characters in the book do what they do, he thinks that they are being manipulated by other characters in the book. Although he does agree that it sometimes is fortune, he does not focus on that outlook for his article. One specific point that he mentioned regarding fortune that I have not come across yet in any of the articles that I have read, is when he writes, “…it is supplemented by cupidity and superstition and cruelty and stupidity and prodigality, by various forms of social ineptness or indecorum or violence, and by the great dark agent of Fortune” (299). I enjoyed how he described Fortune as this “great dark agent” it is something that stuck out to me in my reading. This article definitely added another layer to my analysis and made me look at the text in ways that I didn’t even think to look at it. Although I do agree with some of the points that he makes and I still do think that fortune is what plays a big role in the Decameron, versus human manipulation.