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One of the most valuable tools for learning about past cultures and societies is through the literature of that period. When studying the fourteenth century, a surplus of good books exist revealing characteristics of life at that time. One of such books is The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. In The Decameron, Boccaccio describes lifestyles in the fourteenth century through 10 days of stories told by various characters. He covers all topics and even though he writes in fiction, the characters are similar to actual people of that period. In the "Eighth Day" of The Decameron, Boccaccio accurately depicts women's submissive role in the family, male dominance in society, and sexual promiscuity of the fourteenth century.

In the "Eighth Day", a majority of the stories told represent women as submissive wives to what their husbands say. In the second story told, Boccaccio tells of a woman who had asked the priest for his cloak as a surety that he would pay her the five gold coins he promised. A servant of the priest came to retrieve the cloak without the payment. When the woman's husband found out that she had taken a surety from the priest, he ordered her to go give the cloak back. She willingly did as she was told and fetched the coat to give back to the priest. (pg. 559) This is an accurate representation of the attitudes of the fourteenth century. Thomas Aquinas, a writer of the fourteenth century, advanced the idea of women as being passive and submissive. (Spielvogel 406) This idea was widely accepted and believed by most people and women began to fit into the role of obedient housewife.

Another important characteristic of lifestyles in the fourteenth century is that of male dominance in the society and workforce. This is represented in both the first and second stories in The Decameron. In both cases, the woman is left alone at home because her husband is away on business travel. In the first story, an exchange of money takes place between two men. It would be considered improper at this time for the man's wife to make such a decision because she is considered suitable for housework. In the second story, again a woman's husband is off on business travel while she is left at home. The man does not ask his wife to go and do the business or to even come with him because it is not considered her place in society. ...

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