Griselda (folklore)

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Griselda is sent away as her husband remarries, from a set of Sienese paintings, c. 1490
This article is about the folklore character. For the given name, see Griselda.

Griselda (anglicised to Grizzel and similar forms) is a figure from certain folklores, noted for her patience and obedience. In the tale as written by Giovanni Boccaccio, Griselda marries Gualtieri, the Marquis of Saluzzo. He tests her by declaring that their first child—a daughter—must be put to death, likewise their second child—a son. Griselda obediently gives up both of them without protest, while Gualtieri secretly sends them away to Bologna to be raised rather than killed. In a final test, Gualtieri publicly renounces Griselda, claiming he has been granted papal dispensation to divorce her and marry a better woman; she goes to live with her father. Some years later, Gualtieri announces he is to remarry and recalls Griselda as a servant to prepare the wedding celebrations. He introduces her to a twelve-year-old girl he claims is to be his bride but who is really their daughter; Griselda wishes them well. At this, Gualtieri reveals their grown children to her and Griselda is restored to her place as wife and mother.

Griselda occurs in tales by Petrarch and Chaucer (The Clerk's Tale in The Canterbury Tales). Patient Griselda is a tale by Charles Perrault. John Phillip's play The Commodye of Pacient and Meeke Grissill (also known as The Plaie of Grissill) dates from 1565. Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker and William Haughton collaborated on another dramatic version, Patient Grissel, first performed in 1599. There are operas named Griselda by Antonio Maria Bononcini (Griselda, 1718), Alessandro Scarlatti (La Griselda, 1721), Giovanni Bononcini (Griselda, 1722), and Antonio Vivaldi (Griselda, 1735). Also Jules Massenets Grisélidis (1901) was inspired by the tale of Griselda.

Anthony Trollope's high Victorian novel Miss Mackenzie (1865) is based on the Griselda theme. The Modern Griselda is a novel by Maria Edgeworth from 1804. Patient Griselda is one of a group of historical or legendary dinner-party guests in Caryl Churchill's 1982 play Top Girls. Patient Griselda is a short story by Steven Anthony George in the anthology Twice Upon A Time: Fairytale, Folklore, & Myth. Reimagined & Remastered, ed. Joshua Allen Mercier, 2015, where the tale is retold as a late twentieth century horror story.

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