Inexcusable Acts in Literature


Throughout many great works of literature there are numerous characters whose acts are either moral or immoral. In the works Euripides "Medea", Shakespeare's "Othello" and Boccaccio's Decameron, "Tenth Day, Tenth Story", the main characters all carry out actions which in today's day and age would be immoral and inexcusable. Medea takes on the most immoral act, in Euripides great tragic work.

The morale of today varies greatly with that of the time periods in which these works were written. Gualtieri from Boccaccio's work, Othello from Shakespeare's work and Medea from Euripides' work were all, for the most part, just in their actions because of the view of the citizens during their time period. These people played an immense part in what was viewed as right and wrong, just as in today's day.

In Boccaccio's Decameron, "Tenth Day, Tenth Story", the main character, Gualtieri wants to test his new wife to see how loyal she is to him. In the beginning of the play, it is portrayed to the readers that Gualtieri is a very well respected, moral man. After being told that it is nessecary to find a wife, Gualtieri states, "I will do as you request and so shall I have only myself to blame if things turn out badly, I want to be the one who chooses her, and I tell you now that if she is not honored by you as your will learn to your displeasure how serious a matter it was to compel me with your requests..." (Boccaccio 135).

From this statement Gualtieri is portrayed as a compassionate man. He says he will blame no one but himself if things do not work out and once his wife is chosen he orders his people to respect her, no matter what. This is ironic for him to say, due to the actions he takes later in the story. As the play proceeds Gualtieri's actions become more inexcusable and immoral. He "wished to test his new wife's patience" to see if she truly was as loyal a wife as she seemed to be. He first insulted her with "harsh words", than told her the child that she bore was not good enough because it was not a male. In turn, Gualtieri ordered his wife to give him the child to be killed, to this his wife obeys. His plan, the whole time, was not to kill the child but to send her "to one of his relatives in Bologna" to be raised and educated. When the next child came, Gualtieri took the same monstrous act. The last scheme to his plan was to tell his poor wife that he no longer wished to be married t! o her and planned on marrying "one of the counts of Panago" and wished for Griselda, his wife, to be present, she did as asked. At the "wedding" Gualtieri announced that the young girl he planned on marrying was in fact his daughter, he sent away many years ago. He tells Griselda that he only wanted "to teach her how to be a good wife and show his people how to choose and keep a wife." To this, "Gualtieri was judged as one of the wisest men" (142) by the people of the land.

The actions Gualtieri took were very harsh, in the current views of our time and even of his time. When he pretended to murder his children and take a new wife "his subjects criticized him bitterly and regarded him as a cruel man." Once he revealed his plan though, he was thought of in the highest manner, as the wisest of all men. Therefore, Gualtieri, was viewed as moral in the first moments of the story, performed these horrid acts, and his people still felt the same way towards him at the end of the story. His actions were accepted and even honored by his people.

In today's world Gualtieri's misdeeds would be viewed as immoral sins. Pride is what caused him to do these retched things. Pride, one of the seven deadly sins, is the "wanting to elevate oneself above others". Gualtieri wanted to show his wife that he had power over her and that he was still higher than her in social status. Although the actions taken by Gualtieri were immoral, they do not compare to the sins of Othello and Medea.
Othello by nature