Inexcusable Acts in Literature

This essay has a total of 2138 words and 8 pages.

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 lady...you 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 was a very courageous, open, generous, heroic, unsuspecting-naïve man.
Iago was the main cause in Othello's fall in Shakespeare's tragic play. Iago, Othello's
close friend, wants revenge on him for not promoting Iago to a higher position instead it
is given to another man, Michael Cassio, "Three great ones of the city, in personal suit
to make me his lieutenant, Off-capped to him and, by the faith of man, I know my price I
am worth no worse a place. But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, Evades them with
a bombast circumstance, Horribly stuffed with epithets of war Nonsuits my mediators. For,
"Certes," says he, "I have already chose my officer." And what was he? Forsooth, a great a
great arithmetician, one Michael Cassio, a Florentine." (Shakespeare 1.1.7-17)


Iago's devious plan begins at this moment. He plans on tricking Othello into thinking that
Cassio is having an affair with his wife, Desdemona. This plan will work because Othello
believes Iago to be a very honest man. He is not the only one is the play who is tricked
by Iago's fraud. Everyone repeatedly asserts the belief that Iago is honorable. Roderigo
states to Iago, "That thou Iago, who hadst my purse, as if strings were thine, shouldst
know of this." (1.1.2-3). Later in the play Othello also states, "A man of his honesty and
trust" (1.3.275) of Iago, then ten lines later he speaks again of him, addressing him as
"honest Iago." Therefore, all the characters in the play do not see through Iagos plan
until it is too late. What Iago attempts, and eventually achieves, is to put Othello under
such stress that he breaks down. The play mainly focuses on the point of Iago turning the
character of Othello into an untrusting, jealous, evil-hearted man. This transition is
achieved w! hen Othello murders his own wife. He believes that if he cannot be perfect in
his love, than he will be perfect in his vengeance. When he does take his revenge,
Othello's true being comes out one more time. This is shown when he states, before killing
Desdemona, "Yet I'll not shed her blood, nor scar that whether skin of hers than snow, and
smooth as monumental alabaster." (5.2.4-5). This statement shows that deep inside of him
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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