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Essay Samples > Literary Analysis > Laws Portrayed in Decameron
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Laws Portrayed in Decameron

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The concept of Human laws and Natural laws as portrayed in Decameron

Laws are regulations which are either natural or artificially developed by man, to regulate the daily way of life and conduct.  Any law that has been established, whether natural or human will have some form of restrictions which deter man from committing certain acts, and breaking that law will have punitive consequences.  Laws have been in existence for years and are bases to guide, regulate and bridge against those activities which are regarded as acceptable within the society, while simultaneously protecting the rights of the society against those actions which are considered immoral and therefore unacceptable.  In human engagements, there are certain types of laws which man live by. These laws are categorized into either natural laws or human laws. While natural laws have been in existence since the time of human development, human laws are manmade, and therefore are implemented by man. As these laws continue to be part of human life, the world is currently wondering which of these laws is superior over the other as evidenced in Decameron.

To better develop clear understanding of natural and human laws in Decameron, there is need to consider the setting when the stories were told in and the contextual perspectives of the stories, describing how Europe which is considered to be capitalist, was developing at that time. In this tale, Boccaccio is favoring the class that is employed (working) and those people who sought to make a living for themselves, thereby giving a little attention to those members who are from royal and elite background, that always aim to reap from other people’s sweat. Whereas human laws would cling to certain rights as being categorically acceptable for members of higher and royal classes, natural laws which run throughout the whole of Decameron, holds that prosperity, success and richness may shift to a low class person depending on the actions of the person (Mazzotta, 1986).

The stories are directly related to what happens in real life situations especially with the use of clergy as a laughing stock of jokes. While this would greatly reveal that religion in Europe was swiftly becoming powerless, it has a direct light in showing that human laws, which are designed for, and by those in chains of power, like the kings, judges and the clergy, were not very strong at that time when Europe was changing. The second story shows how powerful persons like the clergy can become victims of the lures created by nature, and how those senior members of the society (like the clergy) may end up breaking the law so as to get what they want (Mazzotta, 1986). Certainly, in realty people break human laws thus infringing their own rights and the rights of others.

The stories outlined in the Decameron have a deeper view of how royal members and other members in the society with strong command of power can break human laws that are established to guide them in their conduct of normal affairs and way of life. These stories may be used as an analogy to show that the clergy and those in power were required by the society to behave in high and respectable ways, but because of their ability to bend human laws, they behave in ways that are against their natural laws. For instance, the priests because of their influence and abilities were easily lured into sexual pleasure with the charms of a woman, despite having strict orders from the Catholic Church, that they should not have any form of sexual intimacy or relationships. This norm is broken by Brother Alberto when he secretly decides to have an affair with Madonna Lisetta. Therefore if we are to use the stories of Decameron as a critique to the manner in which human laws were developed, established and implemented by the Catholic Church, then we can clearly note that Boccaccio was an individual who believed that natural laws are more superior to human laws. Thus in real life situations, people can easily violate the rights of others by breaking human laws, but it is difficult to violate such rights if he or she tries to break a natural law (Wallace, 1991).

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