Journal: Response to The Fat Woodworker

Journal assignment completed for “The Self Before Selfies.”

The Fat Woodworker

Antonio Manetti’s The Fat Woodworker details an intricate prank played on a woodworker because he missed a dinner. Filippo Bruneschelli devises a plan that will fool Manetto the Fat One into thinking that he is another man Matteo. While at first Manetto is sure of himself and his identity, he begins to question this confidence and conforms to the idea that he may no longer be who he thinks he is. Bruneschelli’s scheme is successful because of all the participants, especially considering how he utilizes pillars of the community like the judge and priest. This reveals the pressure of social acceptance and conformity because Manetto knew who he was until he hears what they have to say. The priest tells Manetto, “Worthy men [do not] act this way… promise me that hence forward you will rise from this fantasy and attend to your own business, as upstanding people do and other men who have some sense.”[1] This resonates with Manetto when he eventually decides to leave Florence and live in Hungary, but for the time-being, it encourages him to preserve his reputation as ‘Matteo.’

            Then, Manetto meets with Bruneschelli and Donatello who inquire about Manetto’s mistaken identity. He is embarrassed to admit that he does not actually know what happened, and to save face, he does not reveal what he thinks to be true. When Matteo walks in and shares his experiences, the “Fat One [does not] say a word.”[2] Matteo and Manetto went through the same ordeal, yet in that moment, Manetto could not admit it. Perhaps he was still processing the events, but it is more probable that he was convinced that others would truly believe he is bird-brained. After all, it was crucial that he preserve his appearance. Eventually, Bruneschelli credits himself for Manetto’s success and good fortune, and strangely, they continue to be friends.

[1] Manetti, Antonio. The Fat Woodworker, (New York, Italica Press, Inc, 1991), 25.

[2] Ibid, 42.

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