The Patient Griselda, By Giovanni Boccaccio

2403 words - 10 pages

“The Patient Griselda”, by Giovanni Boccaccio, has hidden meanings to it. Domestic violence from Gualtieri to his chosen wife, Griselda is apparent. Gualtieri feels as though his is condoned to such abuse of his wife because of her low-born social class status, her non-nobility. He further oppresses his power over her by disallowing her to have control over the upbringing of their children.
Gualtieri, a young Italian marquis, was pressured by his servants to marry. His subjects were in fear that there would not be an heir to maintain the stability of their state. Gualtieri agrees to marry, but makes it clear to his subjects that he will he will find his own wife. The marquis makes his people promise that they will not question him nor criticize his choice for a wife. “My friends, since you still persist in wanting me to take a wife; I am prepared to do it, not because I have any desires to marry, but rather in order to gratify your wishes. You will recall the promise you gave me, that no matter whom I should choose; you would rest content and honour her as your lady”, (Boccaccio 164).
The beginning of the marriage was peaceful. Then Griselda gave birth to a daughter. It is at this time that Gualtieri begins to “test” Griselda. His tests are actually forms of emotional abuse. He begins by testing Griselda’s obedience by having the child taken away to be raised elsewhere by woman kinfolk. He told Griselda that their daughter was dead, that he had her killed by his subjects. He repeats this same test with the birth of their son a few years later. Griselda, with no words of protest, surrenders both her children to their deaths by their own father, her husband.
Griselda was abused by Gualtieri from the beginning. He had Griselda stripped naked publically the day they wed. He began showing his acts of aggression and control over Griselda upon meeting her and choosing her for his wife. Gualtieri was insistent upon sending a group of people to re-clothe Griselda for their public marriage. Later in the story, Gualtieri has Griselda surrender her fine clothing and jewels that he put her in to return to the peasant rags she wore upon their first introduction. Both of these occasions let readers see Gualtieri absolute authority and power over Griselda. The readers also see Griselda is completely subordinate to her husband no matter what his demands are of her.
Griselda and Gualtieri were from different social classes. Griselda took on Gualtieri’s covertures’ or her status once her and Gualtieri were married. She instantly went from being poor and a peasant to a life of luxury and royalty due to her husband’s social status. This gave Gualtieri the sense that he could treat his wife any way he chose because of their inequality. Griselda knew deep down that she was not an equal to her husband and that he could do with her as he pleased. Griselda even professed to her husband their inequality when he demanded her to leave...

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