The Decameron is an allegory by Giovanni Boccaccio written in the 14th Century. Decameron is presented as a frame story that consists of 100 tales that have been told by ten young individuals. The book brings out tremendously many life themes, but the theme of love dominantly features in the stories told by the ten individuals. The love tales in the Decameron encompasses both tragic and erotic love stories. Another dominant theme is deception in which the ten storytellers give accounts of deception in 14th century Italy. To understand the thematic concerns of the stories clearly, it is crucial to analyze the characters as presented by Giovanni Boccaccio.
The storytellers comprised of ten individuals who, for two, weeks, escape the danger of the plague-ridden Florence to a small deserted villa in a place called Fiesole. There are a total of seven women and three males in the villa at Fiesole. To pass the time during the evenings, individuals tell stories. This gives them a total of ten days story telling out of the two weeks. By the time this period is ends, they have accomplished 100 stories. Each of the ten characters in the house is charged with the duty of playing king or queen every night. This duty extends to the king or queen selecting the themes of the stories for the night. All the characters have to tell a story within the prescribed theme of the day except for Dioneo who chooses his own stories because of his wit. It is believed that the freedom choice given to him must be because he reflects Boccaccio’s own sentiments about life in Italy. Giving the ten individuals a chance to express their own views through storytelling, accords the reader a chance to experience 14th century Italy from different perspectives and insights.
Under the reign of Pampiena, the first day gives everyone a chance to tell individual stories without any thematic restrictions. The first story of the day is an about a man who lied on his deathbed during a confession. The man portrayed himself as a pious man while in reality, he was wicked. The second story talks about Abraham, a Jew reluctant to convert to Christianity. He then decides to go to Rome to observe the ways of its clergy. The pope and his clergy being a renowned for debauchery and other vices, there is fear that he may not convert. On returning from his trip, he is converted because he believes a religion that is rotten at its helm and still converts people must be spreading Gods word.
During the third day of storytelling in the first story, a man is pretends to be mute so that he can work as a gardener at convent. The nuns at the convent are also willing to participate in the charade and later enjoy the physical company of the gardener. These stories represent a period in which there was a growing discontent with the behavior of the church leaders in the Catholic Church. This discontent provided Boccaccio with characters who satirize the Catholic clergy.
In fact, most of the characters portrayed in the stories actually existed. The addition of real characters provides a sense of reality for the reader hence giving the stories somewhat more credence. The stories portrayed in the book by Boccaccio have come out clearly by creating other characters to tell different stories.