Study Guide

Decameron Third Day, First Story

By Giovanni Boccaccio

Third Day, First Story

Masetto da Lamporecchio

Intro

  • Storyteller: Filostrato
  • People are sadly mistaken, says Filostrato, if they think that a woman leaves behind her carnal desires when she becomes a nun.
  • They're also incredibly stupid to think that rough living and constant prayer will take away these desires.
  • Filostrato will tell a tale that will bust those myths wide open.

Story

  • A man called Nuto once tended the gardens and did odd jobs around a local nunnery. But he earned a poor wage and wanted out, so he collected his money and returned to his home village of Lamporecchio.
  • When he got there, a young laborer called Masetto asked him what kind of work he'd done and why he'd left.
  • So Nuto explained that the nuns, though young, were kind of evil and hard to please. Plus, they paid him badly.
  • Masetto thought, "Eight young nuns? Sounds like my kind of place!" So he sets off for the convent to see if he can pick up Nuto's old job.
  • But he knows that it'll be hard to convince a religious order to hire a handsome and strong young man, so Masetto pretends he's deaf and mute.
  • After he shows the steward of the place how well he can work, the steward refers the matter to the Abbess, who thinks they can keep Masetto on if he knows about gardening.
  • Which he does. Pretty soon, the nuns begin to tease him, thinking he can't hear.
  • One day, two of the nuns see him "sleeping" in the garden and make some plans to learn more about the pleasures of the flesh.
  • It's a perfect set up, says one of the nuns. Masetto can't speak and is probably intellectually deficient, so he'll never be able to tell anyone.
  • They decide to take him into the hut and have their way with him. Of course, Masetto hears the whole plan and very willingly goes along with it.
  • Pretty soon, the other nuns catch on to the pleasures enjoyed by their sisters. They want their share, too.
  • Now Masetto finds himself the stud of the nunnery. Only the Abbess hasn't taken part in the enterprise.
  • Until one day when she finds Masetto truly asleep in the garden (he's pretty exhausted by his night shift duties).
  • The Abbess takes him back to her room and monopolizes him for days. The other nuns complain.
  • In the end, Masetto can't take it anymore. Eight nuns and one Abbess are too much for one man, so he decides to reveal his secret.
  • The Abbess is shocked by his ability to speak—which he tells her he's just recovered—and even more shocked by the fact that he's servicing the whole abbey.
  • Masetto gives her an ultimatum: either work out some kind of schedule with the nuns or I'm outta here.
  • The Abbess decides to keep him at the abbey so that he won't talk and destroy their reputations.
  • She makes him steward and he stays until he's an old man, fathering many "nunlets and monklets" in the process.