One Adam and Nine Eves in Donald Siegel’s The Beguiled and Giovanni Boccaccio’s 3:1 of The Decameron
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- Tumanov, V. Neophilologus (2014) 98: 1. doi:10.1007/s11061-013-9364-2
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Donald Siegel’s 1971 film entitled The Beguiled is compared to Tale 1 of Day 3 from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. Both stories are about a man who arrives in a garden setting and finds nine sexually starved women. In Boccaccio’s tale, a male gardener finds himself in a convent occupied by nine nuns with whom he proceeds to have sexual relations to everyone’s satisfaction. Siegel’s film is about a wounded soldier taken in at a girls’ finishing school whose nine female residents become the objects of the hero’s amorous attention. While Boccaccio adopts a philogynist tone with respect to the material, The Beguiled appears to be a virulently misogynist film projecting its female characters as jealous demons who end up mutilating and then killing their male suitor. Findings from evolutionary psychology pertaining to female jealousy and reproductive strategies are used to consider the respective attitudes toward women in the medieval tale and the twentieth-century film. Conclusions are drawn about the difficulty of placing either of the stories within a clear-cut philogynist or misogynist category.