The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Abbess Character Analysis

In Filostrato’s third tale (III, 1), the Abbess is a poor example of religious leadership when she joins the Young Nuns in taking Masetto as her lover and hides the resulting children from the world. She thus contributes to The Decameron’s anticlerical satire, particularly in the hypocritical delight she takes in an unnamed sexual pleasure that she had previously sharply criticized.
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Abbess Character Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the character Abbess appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 3: First Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...ago, there is a convent with a very beautiful garden where eight nuns and their Abbess live. When their gardener quits, he complains to a handsome young peasant named Masetto that... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Masetto plans to tend more than one kind of garden, and because the Abbess thinks he’s “lost his tale as well as his tongue,” she doesn’t pay attention when... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...of the Young Nuns eventually discover these goings-on and join the fun, as does the Abbess, who requires Masetto to indulge her with the pleasure she used to condemn most fiercely.  (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...that he drops the ruse. One night, he “miraculously” recovers his speech and tells the Abbess that while one cock can satisfy ten hens, ten men can barely satisfy one woman,... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Luckily the steward just died, so the Abbess reports Masetto’s miraculous healing to the neighborhood, appoints him the next steward, and he lives... (full context)