The Black Death in Florence

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1.    What is the main idea Boccaccio is trying to communicate in this excerpt from The Decameron? How does he describe the reactions of the citizens of Florence?

The author illustrates the manner in which the plaque affected the individuals in Florence. He states how the sickness began, spread throughout the body and finally lead to the death of the victims. The citizens of Florence reacted by becoming selfish because of the fear of death, so much that none cared about the other including parents to children and husbands to their wives. Every individual cared about their selves.  

2.    What is the author’s bias? What might have motivated Boccaccio to describe the Black   Death’s impact in Florence?

The author tends to concentrate so much on the manner in which the citizens in question treated one another without indicating that the disease was probably contagious. Besides, once one had contacted the disease, there was nothing that would have been done to remedy the victim; hence, the best would be kept off so that the disease does not spread to another. The author could have been motivated by the black spots that would initially start at either the thigh or arm and spread throughout the body to mark the last stages of the disease. Secondly, the author would have derived the name from the manner in which humanity suffered without helping one another. 

3.    What was the context in which Boccaccio was writing? Where and when was this document written, and what was going on at that time (besides the plague epidemic)?

Notably, around the period of the Black Death, there had also been the battle of Gamenario in Italy as well as the death of Andrew who struggled to overpower with Joan, the monarch of Naples. Therefore, the author wrote the literary work in a context that had involved both chaoses as well as deaths and the value of the human life seemed to have been lost. The document was written in Italy in by the year 1353.

 4.    Who was the intended audience for The Decameron?

The author probably wrote the work to his fellow countrymen following the language he used that only applies to the citizens in question.

5.    Can you connect The Decameron to other things you’ve learned about, either in class or elsewhere? How might this source add to our understanding of history?

The author of The Decameron has employed the use of allegory in explaining the occurrences in the history of Italy and more specifically the Black Death. Therefore, one learns the significance of the country’s past as a reason wherein the countrymen find their connection. Further, the source enhances the reader’s understanding of the period it was written. For instance, in the literary work, the author ensures the mercantile ethic dominates and prevails through portraying that the urban as well as the commercial values of sophistication, quick wit, and intelligence should be treasured. Primarily, the reader also tends to visualize the past forefathers of the country and get to know what was valuable to them and the much they strived to ensure their country was in the state that they wanted.

November 13, 2023



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