Literature Study GuidesThe DecameronSixth Day Sixth Ninth Stories Summary

The Decameron | Study Guide

Giovanni Boccaccio

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The Decameron | Sixth Day, Sixth–Ninth Stories | Summary

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Summary

Sixth Day, Sixth Story

Fiammetta tells this story. Michele Scalza and his friends get into a debate about which Florentine family was the oldest and most noble. Michele thinks it is the Baronci, and bets he can prove it. The loser has to buy his dinner.

Michele explains that the oldest family would be the most noble, that the Baronci family is so ugly they look like God's experiments at making people, so they would have to be the oldest, and thus the noblest. No one can argue with that, so Michele wins the wager.

Sixth Day, Seventh Story

Filostrato's story relates to a law that sentences an adulteress to be burned alive. Madonna Filippa is caught by her husband, Rinaldo. He takes her before the magistrate and she confesses. She complains against the unfairness of the law in that it only applies to women. She then asks the magistrate to ask her husband if she has ever not fulfilled her marital obligations. When he says he is satisfied, she asks what she is to do with everything she has left over. Everyone laughs and she is released.

Sixth Day, Eighth Story

Emilia narrates this story. Cesca is the vain niece of a man named Fresco. She returns home complaining about the ugliness of the people in the streets. Fresco replies if she dislikes seeing horrible people, she should avoid looking in the mirror. Cesca does not understand the reference because she is said to be as dumb as any animal. She will never change or stop looking in the mirror!

Sixth Day, Ninth Story

Elissa relates the following story. Betto Brunelleschi attempts to convince the poet Guido Cavalcanti to join him and his party-going friends, but Guido is not interested. When Betto finds Guido walking through the tombs, he and his friends ask him why he avoids them. Guido tells them while they are in their house, they can say anything about him they want. Then he leaves. Betto realizes Guido just implied the cemetery is their house. Guido just insulted them. They leave Guido alone.

Analysis

In the seventh tale of day six, Boccaccio takes on gender equality. Filippa is caught cheating on her husband, but she argues so persuasively about the unfairness that the law governing infidelity only applies to women that she is released. In addition, she makes reference to a woman's sexual appetites. The reader has seen this in several stories throughout The Decameron—the idea a woman's insatiable sexual needs cannot be met by just one man. It is an interesting idea considering in the Middle Ages a woman's worth was usually determined by her chastity and faithfulness. Boccaccio is flouting this specifically with Filippa, especially since he has her win her argument.

The rest of the stories in this grouping are less about saving someone from embarrassment, and more about shutting down the person commenting. In the ninth tale Guido shuts Betto up with a well-placed dig at their group's intelligence. In story eight the vain young niece is too stupid to realize she has just been insulted.

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