Story Six

November 6, 2020

Today, Nomerfide entertains us with the story of a woman who uses her cleverness not to fend off an unwanted sexual encounter but, rather, to avoid detection for her own love affair. When her one-eyed husband returns home unexpectedly, she covers his good eye, embracing him and telling him she has dreamed he regained his sight — in the meanwhile, her lover slips away.

Nomerfide turns this tale of trickery to women’s advantage, remarking that it really serves to demonstrate their great capacity for good, since if women are astute enough to hide their indiscretions, “they’d be even more ingenious in avoiding bad deeds or in doing good ones.”

Hircan, however, is unconvinced. He insists that men are more cunning than women, and so he gets to tell the next tale!

2 thoughts on “Story Six

  • Here is a rewrite of the “cheated on one-eyed spouse” theme, with a long tradition before Marguerite decided to take it on. Again, I admire her ability to develop highly theatrical scenes and dialogues that really keep the reader’s interest going, and we must remember that she was initiated to the theatre fairly early on. What works here particularly well is a very creative technique of role reversal that impact the reader’s judgment. As readers prepare to blame the young wife in the story, all the more because her perceptive husband alludes to possible violence against her (morally condemning women in general in the process) but refrains from it, it is in the ensuing discussion between Nomerfide and Hircan that his boasting about being clever at amorous games and his getting away with it reverses the stakes: as Parlemente forgives him of all his indiscretions, it is Nomerfide who brings about the reality of men’s disloyalties and ironically dares Hircan to tell his own story of deceit. Of course, he prefers to tell one about a friend and not himself. So, a certain equilibrium is brought back in the thorny relationships between men and women…

  • Nomerfide introduces this story by declaring that “the vice of one woman does not bring dishonour on all other women”; she thereby warns the devisants not to form generalizations from one example. Her measured words stand in sharp contrast to the husband’s declaration that “there’s not a man alive can make a bad woman behave herself, short of murdering her!”. While his words do not provoke any response from the storytellers, they do trouble readers today…

    While the story is not original, the conversation following the tale merits attention. The heated exchange between Nomerfide and Hircan is intriguing in its intensity. Moreover, Hircan’s recognition of his notorious reputation, his admission that facts about his behavior “might be hurtful” to his wife, and Parlamente’s statement that “It will be easier … to hear about your little games than to have had to watch you playing them under my nose” offer readers multiple insights into the character of the storytellers and their relationships with each other.

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