Importance of Tales





Importance of Tales

            A tale can be defined as a story that connects facts from real life or imaginary experiences. Tales are very important because they enable individuals to understand themselves and their surrounding. This is because, in the tale, people are able to see how the characters relate to each other, what they aspire to be and how they choose to behave. As a result, individuals emulate what they have observed in making decisions in life situations that relate. An example of a tale that serves this function is known as Master Ciappelletto’s confession found in the book, the Decameron (Giovanni, Musa and Bondanella 5).

The tale narrates about a businessperson known as Ser Cepparello but seems to be given a common name, Ciapalletto because of his disreputable and wicked character.  The author describes how Ciapalletto decides to take a business trip on a location where his identity is completely unknown as a favor to one of his comrades. However, he suddenly becomes very sick and becomes the responsibility of two brothers from the capital of Italy.

Although, Ciapalletto’s condition then gets worse to the extent that he feels the need for a friar from a neighboring church to be called in order to make peace with his soul by giving his confession. However, Ciapalletto lies during the confession by making it seem like he lived a pure and blameless life. In addition, he pretentiously cringes as he talks about venial transgressions. The friar ends up believing in his confession and is the same one who gives a sermon on Ciapalletto’s life after his death (Giovanni and John 22). As a result, the friar talks about Ciapalletto as if he was a saint and the neighboring people who listen to the sermon end up believing him.

From this tale, one can learn that worldly possessions are only temporary and predetermined. In addition, with these possessions comes great consequences involving several dangers, anguish and struggle, which are subjected to inestimable risks. Therefore, it is impossible for any human being to protect himself or herself from being affected by these hazardous occurrences. However, the situation becomes possible if one lets a divine superior like God enable him experience grace that will give him the strength and courage to face these troubles.

In addition, God gives one the discernment that enables him or her to identify right from wrong. Relating to the story, Master Ciapalletto appears as one who committed wrongful actions including bribery and murder without facing any consequences. For example, he was proudly associated with murderers by assisting them to kill and committed blasphemy since he appeared to have an extreme temper. He was never in church and usually ridiculed religious ceremonial activities including the partaking of sacraments (Giovanni, Musa and Bondanella 7).

In addition, he was recognized for disrespecting and misusing women and possessing the habit of overindulgence in smoking and drinking. Luckily, he was unable to suffer the consequences because of receiving protection from a political ally known as Master Musciatto from the alliances and courts of law, which he damaged (Giovanni and John 23). However, as he travels for business, he suddenly suffers from a severe illness that leads to his death (Giovanni, Musa and Bondanella 9). This incident shows that the power he had in ruining people’s lives without paying for the consequences was temporary and meaningless.

As Ciappalletto’s time of dying was approaching, he was not focused in reflecting how wealthy and influential he was but on seeking divine intervention to make peace with his soul. This proves that worldly accomplishments become useless to an individual unless he recognizes and respects the great or divine authority behind the giver and owner of those possessions. Despite Ciappalletto mocking religion in the past, he referred to it for assistance when they asked for the friar to come and listen to his confession (Giovanni, Musa and Bondanella 9). This shows that divinity is considered more important than secularity since it determines our eternal wellbeing.

The story of Master Ciappalletto has made me realize that worldly possessions only become meaningful only when backed up by a divine purpose. Therefore, if a person concentrates on living a carefree life of possessing worldly possessions without recognizing his divine or spiritual identity, life becomes more meaningless because the divine owner of those possessions is not acknowledged. One can also learn that every action despite right or wrong must have a consequence. As Ciappalletto was committing all those transgressions, he probably thought that he would always get away with it.

However, the occurrence of the illness might have been a sign of making Ciappalletto face the consequences for his past mistakes. Despite the consequential occurrence, Ciappalletto lied as he was giving his confession to the friar (Giovanni and John 22). He might have considered that as long as he was able to get away with his actions in the past, the same would go for his final confession before his death.

Although, after his death, he might have received eternal condemnation because he did not come to terms with what he did. Perhaps, if he chose to be more sincere in his confession, he would have made peace with his soul and hence have a better eternal destiny. In addition, if he had tried to live a better blameless life, he probably would have been more at peace during his death, and hence there would be no need in confessing to the friar (Giovanni and John 22). Therefore, power and material possessions are not enough to provide happiness, peace or a sense of fulfillment to a person.

The next story found in the book, Arabian Nights, is the tale of the Ox and the Donkey. It talks about a rich merchant who comprehends the language of various animals. The merchant is described to own an ox and a donkey (Daniel 59). The donkey appears to be well treated by the merchant because it is well nourished, watered and stayed in a clean habitat. However, this case is the opposite for the ox because it appears to be always worn-out from carrying and pulling heavy loads of goods.

Therefore, the ox decides to discuss the matter with the donkey by first commending on how privileged it was. The donkey responds by offering the ox advice on how to deal with its situation (Daniel 59). The ox is told to pretend that it has fallen ill so that it does not suffer the tedious burden of work. However, the merchant overhears the two animals and as one of his servants approaches him about the condition of the ox, the merchant instructs him to replace the donkey for the job (Haddawy, Husain, Mahdi and Heller-Roazen 11). As a result, the donkey regrets the advice he offered the ox and decides to alter it.

Therefore, the donkey informs the ox that their master, who is the merchant, ordered one of his servants to kill it once it failed to recover its illness by the next day. As a result, the ox surprisingly shows signs of being cured the following day (Daniel 59). The merchant repeatedly overhears advice offered to the ox by the donkey, and in the following day, he goes to see the ox together with his wife. The ox appears to be bragging on the wellbeing of his physical abilities and strengths (Haddawy, Husain, Mahdi and Heller-Roazen 12). As a result, the merchant laughs and as his wife questions him on what he finds funny, he explains to her his God-given ability to comprehend the languages of animals. However, he clarifies that he is unable to uncover what the animals say to any other human being because the resulting consequence is death.

The wife continually insists that he tells her or she will assume that he was making fun of her. The conversation turns to a huge argument until the merchant gives up and decides to tell his wife everything he has been hiding (Haddawy, Husain, Mahdi and Heller-Roazen 12). The merchant knowing about his upcoming fate of death plans to write out his will. He goes to the stable where he encounters with a dog and a rooster. As the dog questions the rooster as to why he is not concerned about his master’s upcoming death, he responds by referring to the merchant as a fool (Haddawy, Husain, Mahdi and Heller-Roazen 13).

The rooster clarifies that the merchant does not know how to manage his own wife because if it were he, he would beat the wife until she lost her curiosity and desire to know the truth. The story is a clear example of why meddlesome behaviors should not be encouraged within individuals. It is important that a person keeps out from interfering with other people’s affairs because he might get involved in suffering consequences that are not his. For example, if the donkey decided to keep away from being involved with matters of the ox, he probably would have not suffered the inconvenience of being forced to work in place of the ox.

However, the donkey decided to interfere with the issue that did not need his involvement when he advised the ox to pretend that he was ill (Daniel 59). The donkey was probably not aware that the merchant could understand their language. This fact teaches on how risky life can get for those who like to assume everything. Perhaps if the donkey were cautious enough to see if anyone was listening to his or her conversation, he would not have to go through the trouble of laboring for the ox.  The story also depicts selfishness in the scene where the wife asks for information from her husband despite knowing that it would lead to her husband’s death.

It is assumed that since she is the wife, she is meant show that she loves and cares for the merchant. This means that the wife should have taken the time to understand her husband after being told he could die from spreading that information. However, instead of showing concern for her husband’s death, she persisted in knowing the truth despite knowing that it would kill her husband (Haddawy, Husain, Mahdi and Heller-Roazen 12). Besides, if the husband were going to die, the woman would also end up in a negative situation because she would lose a valuable factor in her life. Therefore, a way of showing love to others is by sometimes one putting their interests or concerns first before his needs.

Another instance where one could draw a valuable lesson on selfishness is in the scene where the dog and rooster are having a conversation. As the dog asks the rooster, why it is not showing any sympathy or concern for their master’s death, the rooster proudly responds that the merchant is fools for letting the fateful consequence happen to him. In this case, the rooster is selfish and ungrateful because the person whom it is badly remarking is the same person who takes responsibility to ensure that it is well fed and taken care of.

It is therefore important to show appreciation and concern for others who are troubled instead of laughing at them because they can happen to anyone. For example, if the rooster happened to be threatened by an external predator, it would come running to the merchant’s land in search for protection. Both of these stories including Master Ciappelletto’s confession and tale of the ox and the donkey have been used to reflect on the basic values that should be emulated within a society. For example, in Master Ciappelletto’s confession, values of honesty and respect are emphasized while kindness, love and understanding are the values taught in the tale of the fox and the donkey. As much as tales were mostly used in the past as compared to these modern times, they do play a significant role in instilling important values within individuals.

Works Cited:

Beaumont, Daniel E. Slave of Desire: Sex, Love, and Death in the 1001 Nights. Madison [NJ: FairleighDickinsonUniversity Press, 2002. Print.

Boccaccio Giovanni, Mark Musa, and Peter E. Bondanella. The Decameron: Selected Tales. New York: Courier Douver, 2000. Print.

Boccaccio, Giovanni and Payne, John. The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio. Europe: Kessinger Pub. Co, 2003. Print.

Haddawy, Husain, Muhsin Mahdi, and Daniel Heller-Roazen. The Arabian Nights. New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2010. Print.


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