“Neither you nor I can resist the power of Love.” 1These
are the only words spoken by Guiscardo, the young men who is killed by his
lover’s father in the story. The
sentence reminds also Francesca Rimini’s claim from Inferno, that Love is unforgiving to
anyone who is loved. ” Amor, che a nessun amato Amor perdona.”2 It summarizes the story of the two
young lovers very well, in the way that their love is also not enough and does
not help them to have a happy ending.
All of the stories in
Decameron are based on the theme of the day. The theme of the fourth day is
“those whose love ended unhappily.” It includes three stories in which young
lovers are killed. The first story
of the day is the story of Ghismonda and Tancredi, which ends unhappily as
well. Tancredi, Prince of Salerno,
had a beautiful daughter named Ghismonda.
He loved her so much that he did not want her to marry someone.
Eventually, he marries her with the Duke of Capua, but the Duke dies, so
Ghismonda comes back home to live with her father. Tancredi is pleased with
this situation and does not hurry to marry off his daughter for the second
time. However, Ghismonda gets
tired of being alone and decides to find a husband for herself. She falls in
love with one of her father’s valet, whose name is Guiscardo. Soon after, they
both realize that their feelings are mutual. Ghismonda writes him a letter explaining how to proceed.
They decide to meet in Ghismonda’s room. He will use the door to a forgotten
cavern that is directly located in her bedroom. They start to meet in her
bedroom, and everything was going well until one day when Tancredi decides to
speak with his daughter in her room. When he goes to her bedroom Ghismonda is
not there, so he decides to hide behind a curtain and wait for her. That afternoon, Ghismonda meets with
Guiscardo, and they both come to her room. Tancredi wakes up and sees Guiscardo
but does not say anything to him but he already made a plan for punishing him.
He gets Guiscardo arrested and locks him up at night. In the following day,
Tancredi confronts Ghismonda not only she was with a man outside marriage but
with someone who is not the same social status with her. Tancredi tells her
that he knows what he is going to do with Guiscardo but does not know what he
will do with her. Ghismonda understands what this means. She knows that her
father will kill his lover so decides to kill herself as well. By Tancredi’s orders, his servants
strangle Guiscardo and remove his heart. He then has the heart placed in a
golden chalice and sends to Ghismonda with a special note. Ghismonda cries enough and then decides
to drink up the poison. The last wish she wants from his father is to bury her
and Guiscardo together. Tancredi is sorry for his actions, but it is too late.
He buries the two lovers together.
Not just in this first story but in the fourth day as a whole, the parents,
or husbands who attempt to control the passions of their children, or wives found themselves in the tragic
consequences of their intervention.
Boccaccio personifies love as both internal and external action. For
instance, if love is the motivation for the couple, fortune sets up the
conditions under which they share their desire. The relationship between love
and fortune is not so noticeable in the story of Ghismonda and Guiscardo. We
can describe the story as one in which two lovers caught between their own
emotions and circumstances of the parental opposition.
The concept of soul enters to the story to punish Guiscardo. The removal of
Guiscardo’s heart was a horrifying punishment. However, this physical act was
intended to “mark” the soul of the dead and resist his transition to a peaceful
Another idea that the story depicts is that personal relationships are not
based on the acquired social status of your lover. It is based on the natural
qualities that a person has no matter which class or social status he belongs
to. In the story, Guiscardo was born to a lower social status family which is a
significant difference for Tancredi. However, it is not significant for
Boccaccio. The author wants to mention that social status does not matter in
In the Decameron Boccacio’s understanding of human nature are the moral
implications. His general attitude towards morality is not strict and narrow
instead it is tolerant and enlightened. According to him if no one knows the
right answer, then we must not blame others whose rule of life is different
Collection of stories written by the Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron can be described as a frame story containing hundred
tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men. The stories
take place during a historical
event which is the Black Death, and our storytellers are trying to escape
Boccaccio depicts the importance of storytelling by making the book
consists of short stories. Storytelling has a crucial role in the production
and discussion of shared social and cultural values. Stories can shape the
reality because they offer
elements which make reality receive a meaning. The most important thing about
storytelling is that most of the time they teach life lessons .
The Decameron is also a reminder that spiritual life is only one aspect of
life and that there is another aspect with knowledge, with desires, with the
body, and passions. It was revolutionary in a way that the stories were related
to the direct material life that was shared by all of the people from different
social status. Boccaccio’s stories take his readers to another world, to a
world that is in the reality of experience. It entertains as well as educates
and instructs them to understand the real
and daily life better.
1 Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, page 295
2 Dante, Divine Comedy, Inferno, V, page 103