After what had to have been one of the longest and most frustrating days of my life, I have gotten what little sleep time has allowed me and am now able to post. The Griselda story was, in my opinion, a strange choice for a final tale in the Decameron. Reading it, there are no big surprises, but more dramatic irony in the fact that we know what the marquis is doing while Griselda does not. Without a sense of allegory, it is an immensely frustrating series of events because of the unbelievable patience Griselda shows to her husband. Of course, Job would seem to be a fitting parallel for this story, but the moral is a little harder to grasp. In Job, we are clearly supposed to be more like Job, always having faith despite hardships. In Griselda, it’s hard to believe that anyone would put up with such cruelty as she did for the marquis. We find ourselves asking that if the marquis’ only condition for finding a wife was that she would always be faithful, then why was her initial word not a good enough indicator. Since she obviously proved herself a “worthy” wife in the end, it makes sense that she always was one. Likewise, Job proved himself worthy, but how can it be proved that the trials God put him through strengthened his faith to that level, or merely showcased it to a being that is supposed to know these things anyway. This is the tricky business of having one of your characters in a God-like role. The audience will not be as accepting to the notion that he can do anything and still be loved and revered. Bocaccio seems to believe that all of the cruelty from the marquis (and God in Job) is in the end unnecessary, being that the characters get the same point they were near the beginning, except in Griselda no one actually dies.
What strikes me is how this story has become so everlasting. Granted it is the last story, so it will undoubtedly have an accented effect, but it is unpleasant and bizarre. After Bocaccio’s version, Petrach rewrote it, then Chaucer included it in Canterbury Tales as the “Clerk’s Tale.” There is even this: The Hotel Griselda in Saluzzo. She appears in several modern plays as “Patient Griselda.” Obviously the Medieval world saw her as having great virtue, but we today see she had every right to give that marquis what he deserved when he brought those kids back. For me, it no longer works. Job was virtuous because in the end he found favor with God, which is something to aspire to. Griselda sought the happiness of just a man, and therefore her patience was for a goal that is unworthy.