"One of the most important aspects of the text is its insistence on the importance of individual agency. Characters in apparently impossible situations shape make their own fates through the exercise of wit, and resourcefulness is almost always rewarded in the novella. Moreover, many of the tales portray women whose intelligence allows them to successfully transgress social mores. This striking fact suggests that Boccaccio may have intended his work to serve as a practical handbook for life, serving the general populace in ways analogous to how Machiavelli’s Prince or Castiglione’s Courtier provide practical advice about ruling. This kind of transgressive stance was undoubtedly the result of the ravages of the plague, and it may even have been possible only because a calamity of such colossal proportions as the Black Death must have disturbed to the core Italian social and religious assumptions and conventions."
— REALE, Nancy M. Boccaccio’s Decameron: A Fictional Effort to Grapple with Chaos.