The Decameron

The Decameron

by

Giovanni Boccaccio

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Rinieri Character Analysis

Rinieri is the protagonist of Pampinea’s eighth tale (VIII, 7). A Florentine who went to Paris to achieve a university education, he falls in love with Elena on his return. After she tricks and humiliates him in front of her lover, he punishes her with painful and humiliating torture. His tirades against Elena are full of medieval misogynistic stereotypes and language, and he actively refuses to give in to compassion and mercy on several occasions. Many scholars have taken at least elements of his story to be a fictionalization of a real heartbreak suffered by Giovanni Boccaccio.

Rinieri Quotes in The Decameron

The The Decameron quotes below are all either spoken by Rinieri or refer to Rinieri. 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 8: Seventh Tale Quotes

Feeling somewhat aggrieved that things had not worked out as the scholar had told her, she said to herself: “I strongly suspect that he was trying to give me a night like the one I provided for him; but if that was his intention, he’s chosen a feeble way of avenging himself, for the night he spent was at least three times as long, and the cold was far more severe.” But as she had no desire to be found up there in broad daylight, now prepared to descend, only to discover that the ladder had gone.

Related Characters: Pampinea (speaker), Elena, Rinieri
Page Number: 597
Explanation and Analysis:

But even supposing I were a charitable man, you are not the sort of woman who deserves to be treated with charity. For a savage beast of your sort, death is the only fit punishment, the only just revenge, though admittedly, had I been dealing with a human being I should already have done enough […] I intend to harry you with all the hatred and all the strength of a man who is fighting his oldest enemy.

...it was not for lack of trying that you failed to murder a gentleman (as you called me just now), who can bring more benefit to humanity in a single day than a hundred thousand women of your sort can bring to it for as long as the world shall last.

Related Characters: Rinieri (speaker), Elena
Page Number: 600
Explanation and Analysis:

And even supposing that all my little schemes had failed, I should still have had my pen, with which I should have lampooned you so mercilessly, and with so much eloquence, that when my writings came to your notice (as they certainly would), you would have wished, a thousand times a day, that you had never been born.

The power of the pen is far greater than people suppose who have not proved it by experience. I swear to God […] that you yourself, to say nothing of others, would have been so mortified by the things I had written that you would have put out your eyes rather than look upon yourself ever again.

Related Characters: Rinieri (speaker), Elena
Page Number: 602
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Decameron LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Decameron PDF

Rinieri Character Timeline in The Decameron

The timeline below shows where the character Rinieri appears in The Decameron. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Day 8: Seventh Tale
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
...taken a “charming young man” of her choice as her lover. Around the same time, Rinieri, a young Florentine nobleman, returns from his studies in Paris. He falls desperately in love... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Believing Elena to be interested, Rinieri cultivates her maid as a go-between, and when the maid carries messages to her mistress,... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Elena invites Rinieri to visit her after dark on the day after Christmas, and the maid admits him... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Seeing Rinieri left outside to freeze to death nearly convinces Elena’s lover that she doesn’t care for... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Elena calls Rinieri through a crack in the door. He gratefully expects to be allowed in so he... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Finally understanding that he’s been tricked, Rinieri tries to escape, but every door is locked. During the cold night, his “longstanding love... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
After some time, fortune gives Rinieri a chance to enact his revenge. Elena’s lover leaves her for another woman, and she’s... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Elena, forgetting how badly she mistreated him, pours out her troubles to Rinieri. Although magic displeases God and Rinieri vowed to avoid it, he pretends that his love... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Faith vs. Religion Theme Icon
Rinieri describes the ritual. He will make a tin figure of her lover. Elena must wait... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Delighted at the thought of his impending revenge, Rinieri makes the tin figure and writes out some nonsense spell words, sending both to Elena.... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Elena climbs to the top of the tower and recites the spell while Rinieri silently dismantles the ladder. After the magical maidens fail to appear, she begins to suspect... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...rises, Elena is so desperate she’s nearly suicidal. While searching around for help, she sees Rinieri. Lying down on the roof and putting her head through the trapdoor so he can’t... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Rinieri tells Elena that she could have expected some compassion from him now if she had... (full context)
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Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Rinieri resents Elena’s attempt to avoid punishment “for [her] wickedness” by appealing to his “better nature.”... (full context)
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If Elena is so anxious to descend the tower, Rinieri suggests that she make him happy by committing suicide. She tries to argue that putting... (full context)
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Men and Women Theme Icon
Rinieri retorts that Elena confided in him out of desperation, not respect. He brags that he... (full context)
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Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Seizing on his new love, Elena asks Rinieri to pity her for the sake of his lady, and he pretends to go off... (full context)
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Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
Late in the afternoon, Rinieri returns. A weakening Elena bursts into tears and begs him in God’s name to end... (full context)
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Finally, as evening approaches, Rinieri feels that his revenge is complete—although he would like to punish her maid, too. He... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
...to her sheets. She doesn’t miss her lover, play tricks, or fall in love again. Rinieri, hearing that the maid broke her leg, considers his revenge complete and goes “happily about... (full context)
Day 8: Eighth Tale
Men and Women Theme Icon
Moderation and Excess Theme Icon
...is restrained by “the knowledge that she had partially brought [it] upon herself,” even if  Rinieri was “excessively severe and relentless, not to say downright cruel.” Fiammetta’s tale will show how... (full context)