Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronSeventh Day Second Story Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Seventh Day, Second Story | Summary

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Summary

Filostrato tells the next story. Peronella is a beautiful young woman married to a poor man in Naples. One day, a young man named Giannello Scrignario sees Peronella and falls in love with her beauty. They begin an affair and contrive a way to be together without her husband knowing. After Peronella's husband leaves for work, the young man comes to her house to visit her.

One day the husband returns home earlier than expected. Giannello hides in a barrel, while Peronella unlocks the front door and lets her husband inside. She rails at him for failing to find work, but he tells her it is the Festival of Saint Galeone, and there is no work to be had. But he knew Peronella would worry about money since they are poor, so he sold the barrel for five silver pieces to the man he brought with him.

Thinking quickly, Peronella tells him she just sold the barrel for seven silver pieces to the man who is currently inside the barrel checking to make sure it is sound. Peronella's husband dismisses the man he came with and heads to their bedroom. Meanwhile, Giannello listens to everything Peronella says, and pretends to be the buyer of the barrel.

Claiming the barrel is dirty, he says he will not take it unless it is cleaned first. Peronella orders her husband to clean it, leaning over in order to instruct him. Giannello takes his pleasure with Peronella as her husband is cleaning the barrel, pays him the money, and has the man take the barrel to his home.

Analysis

Peronella is another example of a woman with 'smarts' and a sexual appetite. She knows when her husband is going to be out of the house, and uses this time to invite her lover over. Infidelity is a common theme in these later stories as men trick their wives—or very commonly, women make fools of their husbands. One has to wonder if anyone was remaining faithful to the person he/she was married to in this time period, although Boccaccio is exaggerating for the sake of his work and his ribald sense of humor. In this case it's yet another instance of a beautiful young woman wed to an older man, but this time a poor one.

Peronella's quick thinking saves the situation. Not only does Peronella keep her relationship with her lover a secret from her husband, but she still manages to have sex with her lover even after the interruption. Keeping her husband occupied with cleaning the barrel, Peronella and Giannello enjoy each other right in front of him, and he still doesn't realize what is happening. He is the epitome of the blind husband, with his head stuffed in a barrel. Peronella gets the added bonus of having her lover pay for a barrel he didn't even want.

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