Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronFifth Day Tenth Story Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Fifth Day, Tenth Story | Summary

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Summary

Dioneo ends the stories for the fifth day. Pietro di Vinciolo is a rich man more interested in other men than in women. To change the public's opinion of him, he marries a young woman, but is uninterested in satisfying her sexual needs. She decides to find a lover to satisfy her needs, since she would only "be breaking the law, but he breaks both that law and the law of Nature as well."

She befriends an old woman who tells her she is right to pursue this plan, especially since she is young and beautiful. They make a deal in which the old woman sends eager men toward the young woman. One night the young woman is busy entertaining a young man when Pietro returns home early. She has the young man hide in the chicken coop.

Pietro tells his wife the reason for his return—his friend caught his wife's lover. Pietro's wife pretends outrage, but by chance Pietro soon discovers her would-be lover too after a donkey steps on his finger. Pietro tells his wife he will make sure she is satisfied in the future, and then they both enjoy the young man's company. When the young man wakes the next morning, he is not sure whom he ended up sleeping with the more.

Analysis

Here fortune works in both the wife and the husband's favor. It is interesting to note Boccaccio doesn't seem to have any issues with homosexuality, which was very liberal for the time—he presents it as just one more facet of the human sexual experience. He could easily make Pietro the butt of the joke, but he does not—in fact, it sounds as though Pietro got exactly what he wanted. His wife is happy and so is he, and so even is the young man. Of course, it is Dioneo who narrates this tale of bawdy shenanigans.

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