The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Neifile Character Analysis

Neifile is a member of the brigata. Her name means “newly enamored” and has been understood to connect her to Dante and the Dolce Stil Novo love poetry tradition. She thus links Giovanni Boccaccio’s work and fame with the work of his favorite poet. She is initially embarrassed at the thought of going to the country with the brigata’s men, as she is the object of one’s affections—although it’s never revealed which one. Accordingly, she worries that if they go away from Florence unchaperoned, they will be subject to gossip and dishonor. Yet, she indulges in sexual innuendo while crowning Filostrato the sovereign of Day IV, demonstrating the pithy wit and repartee that women should be known for. She is cheerful and modest, blushing and casting down her eyes when Filomena crowns her the sovereign of Day III, and frequently downplaying her talents before telling her tales. Her theme is perseverance in the face of fortune’s whims, and it’s she who instigates the observation of rest and prayer over the weekend.

Neifile Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below are all either spoken by Neifile or refer to Neifile. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Sex Theme Icon
).
Day 1: Second Tale Quotes

“[Nobody in Rome] who was connected with the Church seemed to me to display the slightest sign of holiness, piety, charity, moral rectitude, or any other virtue. On the contrary, it seemed to me that they were all so steeped in lust, greed, avarice, fraud, envy, pride, and other like sins and worse (if indeed that is possible), that I regard the place as a hotbed for diabolical rather than devotional activities. As far as I can judge, it seems to me that your pontiff, and all of the others too, are doing their level best to reduce the Christian religion to nought [sic] and drive it from the face of the earth, whereas they are the very people who should be its foundation and support.”

Related Characters: Abraham (speaker), Neifile, Jehannot de Chevigny
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 2: First Tale Quotes

Meanwhile, with the matter proceeding along these lines, word had reached Marchese and Stecchi that the judge was giving him a rough handling and had already put him on the strappado. “We have made a fine mess of things,” they said, shaking with fright. “We have taken him out of the frying-pan and dropped him straight in the fire.” Being determined to leave no stone unturned, they tracked down their landlord, and explained to him what had happened. The landlord, who was highly amused at their tale, took them to see a man called Sandro Agolanti, a Florentine living in Treviso who had considerable influence with the ruler of the city.

Related Characters: Neifile (speaker), Martellino, Marchese, Stecchi, Sandro Agolanti
Related Symbols: Fortune
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 3: Conclusion Quotes

“Now we shall discover whether the wolf can fare any better at leading the sheep than the sheep have fared in leading the wolves.”

On hearing this, Filostrato laughed and said: “Had you listened to me, the wolves would have taught the sheep by now to put the devil back in Hell, no less skillfully than Rustico taught Alibech. But you have not exactly been behaving like sheep, and therefore you must not describe us as wolves…”

“Allow me to tell you, Filostrato,” replied Neifile, “that if you men had tried to teach us anything of the sort, you might have learned some sense from us, as Masetto did from the nuns, and retrieved the use of your tongues when your bones were rattling from exhaustion.”

On perceiving that the ladies had as many scythes as he had arrows, Filostrato abandoned his jesting and turned to the business of ruling his kingdom.

Related Characters: Filostrato (speaker), Neifile (speaker), Rustico, Alibech, Young Nuns, Masetto
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 4: Eighth Tale Quotes

Excellent ladies, to my way of thinking there are those who imagine that they know more than others when in fact they know less, and hence they presume to set this wisdom of theirs against not only the counsels of their fellow men, but also the laws of Nature…Now, there is nothing in the whole of Nature which is less susceptible to advice or interference than Love, whose qualities are such that it is far more likely to burn itself out of its own free will than to be quenched by deliberate pressure. [So I will] tell you a story about a lady who … sought to be wiser than she actually was, and by flaunting her cleverness in a matter that was beyond her competence, succeeded at one and the same time in driving both Love and life from the body of her son.

Related Characters: Neifile (speaker), Girolamo’s Mother, Girolamo, Salvestra
Page Number: 342-343
Explanation and Analysis:
Day 7: Eighth Tale Quotes

God in heaven, you think he had picked you up out of the gutter! […] These country yokels, they move into town after serving as cut-throat to some petty rustic tyrant, and wander about the streets in rags and tatters, their trousers all askew, with a quill sticking out from their backsides, and no sooner do they get a few pence in their pockets than they want the daughters of noble gentlemen and fine ladies for their wives. And they devise a coat of arms for themselves and go about saying: “I belong to such-and-such a family” and “My people did so-and-so.”

Page Number: 531
Explanation and Analysis:
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Neifile Character Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the character Neifile appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 1: Introduction
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...that might arise from naughtiness in their stories. They are Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emelia, Lauretta, Neifile, and Elissa. (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
Neifile flushes with embarrassment and begs Pampinea to be careful; traveling together might lead to gossip.... (full context)
Day 1: Second Tale
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Neifile, seated next to Panfilo, tells the next tale, about how God’s mercy can even overcome... (full context)
Class and Character Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Neifile’s tale concerns Jehannot de Chevigny, a Parisian merchant, and his friend, a Jewish moneylender called... (full context)
Day 2: Introduction
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...and a siesta, they gather to tell stories under the rulership of Filomena, who asks Neifile to tell the day’s first tale. (full context)
Day 2: First Tale
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Neifile’s tale begins with Arrigo, a German who worked as a porter in Treviso and lived... (full context)
Day 2: Second Tale
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
While the company is still laughing over Neifile’s story, Filomena commands Filostrato to tell the next tale. Rinaldo d’Asti is a traveling merchant... (full context)
Day 2: Conclusion
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...that Bernabò was foolish to trust his wife. Once the laughter dies down, Filomena crowns Neifile as the next day’s sovereign. Her modesty—she blushes and lowers her eyes—only makes her more... (full context)
Day 3: Ninth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Neifile’s turn comes next, since Dioneo has the privilege of going last. Protesting how hard it... (full context)
Day 3: Conclusion
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Dioneo’s tale makes everyone shake with laughter. Neifile places the crown on Filostrato’s head, joking that it is time to see if the... (full context)
Day 4: Eighth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Neifile begins her story with a comment about the importance of humility and wisdom, calling to... (full context)
Day 4: Ninth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
...his own theme, Filostrato prepares to tell a tale that will arouse more pity than Neifile’s, since its subjects are fine aristocrats and their fate is crueler. (full context)
Day 5: Fifth Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...laughter to die down, and Fiammetta declares that he’s atoned for yesterday’s sorrows before asking Neifile to tell the next story. (full context)
Day 6: Fourth Tale
Intelligence Theme Icon
Neifile’s tale will illustrate how fortune sometimes gives people a prompt retort in a moment of... (full context)
Day 7: Eighth Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Class and Character Theme Icon
The next storyteller is Neifile, whose tale concerns Arriguccio Berlinghieri, a wealthy merchant who tries to climb the social ladder... (full context)
Day 8: Introduction
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
...in various amusements. In the afternoon, they gather for the day’s tales, and Lauretta asks Neifile to begin. (full context)
Day 8: First Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Neifile’s tale is about a man playing a trick on a woman, although it’s more aptly... (full context)
Day 9: Fourth Tale
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Neifile’s tale will show how sometimes a bad man’s cunning can defeat a good man’s wisdom.... (full context)
Day 9: Conclusion
Love and Sex Theme Icon
And at the end of the meal, Neifile sings a song. The song’s persona celebrates its youth, which delights in early spring’s abundant... (full context)
Day 10: First Tale
Class and Character Theme Icon
Neifile, the day’s first narrator, hopes she can successfully introduce the theme of munificence (generosity). In... (full context)
Day 10: Second Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Elissa, not to be outdone by Neifile, proposes to tell a tale of generosity done by a clergyman who was less powerful... (full context)