As a gift for finishing this course Gary North was kind enough to give us this 1000 word essay assignment. 😅 (disclaimer: I’m not trying to be offending I was just joking) Anyways for this assignment the topic is:
“Are Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales closer in outlook to Greek and Roman literature than they are to Hebrew, Christian, and medieval literature?”
The fundamental themes that were discussed through this entire course are Sovereignty, Authority, Law, Sanctions, Succession. I’ll be breaking this topic into these themes.
First of all, in my opinion Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are closer in outlook to both Greek/Roman literature and Hebrew/Christian/medieval literature. To be more specific Boccaccio’s Decameron is closer to Hebrew/Christian/medieval literature and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are closer in outlook to Greek/Roman literature.
Sovereignty: ‘who’s in charge here’ In Boccaccio’s Decameron, the stories in there were during the times of Black Death and many people lost their faith because of the chaos around them. These stories targeted those who have kept their faith and decided to continue believing even when times like the Black Death are tough. So it’s kinda obvious who’s in charge when it comes to some of the stories in the Decameron (which is God).
Sovereignty: In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, who’s in charge really depends on the kind of story you’re reading. In the mini story the Pardoner’s tale, the one in charge was Death himself as far as I’ve observed. Basically you won’t find God in charge in any of the stories and is never mentioned.
Authority: “To whom do I report?” In Boccaccio’s Decameron, since the literature was closer in outlook to Hebrew/Christian/medieval literature then God would be the one man turns to. Although during the time this piece of literature was written, people were more focused on surviving the plague, accepting their fate rather than looking up to God and having faith that he will deliver them. If we are talking about the ones that still had faith in God then of course God would be in authority and somebody to turn to.
Authority: In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, since the outlook for this literature was closer to the Greek/Roman literature, then we are talking about the state leaders or the olympian gods. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales focuses more on Romance, comedy (dirty jokes), legends, and hagiography so it makes sense that when it comes to reporting to someone, it would be somebody that’s in charge of the state or the olympian gods.
Law: “What are the rules?” As for Boccaccio’s Decameron there are certain rules that test a man’s action. Rules such as the 10 commandments and other rules said in the scriptures would be the rules for those who still had faith in God and continued to serve him.
Law: In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales unlike the Decameron, there’s no real ethical law or consequences for certain actions. The characters in some stories acted as they pleased. For example one of the stories in the Canterbury Tales a knight raped an innocent girl, but somehow got away with it because the queen had favored him. He didn’t get away for free though, of course he had to do things in order to get his freedom and live happily.
Sanctions: “What happens if I obey or disobey?” In Boccaccio’s Decameron things were simple and self explanatory. If you follow all the rules faithfully and respectfully then you will get the positive sanctions which you will get rewarded for being faithful in God. If you strayed from God and started disobeying his laws, then negative sanctions will be placed upon you such as difficulties that come your way and you won’t receive help.
Sanctions: In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales following the law, the people don’t receive any consequence for either good or bad decisions. Therefore, they receive either positive or negative sanctions. The situation is quite neutral for this literature and you don’t know what to expect next for a character. For example in one of the tales a man murdered his daughter because he was accused of not being her father. If I didn’t get to the part where the father murdered his daughter I would probably think that because of the accusations placed upon this man, he could either continue loving his daughter or find out if what others said is true. It’s kinda unclear what would happen next after people accused him of not being the real father.
Let me be honest, having the father murder his daughter was the last thing I would come to the conclusion of. Because the father didn’t receive any punishments, the sanctions are neither positive nor negative. I’m not saying what he did is right, but there’s nothing positive about his actions and no negative sanctions were placed on him for he wasn’t punished in the story.
Succession: “Is there a future/Inheritance?” In Boccaccio’s Decameron the future is very bleak, because people died hopeless during the Black Death plague. Therefore, you can’t expect to have a generation in that particular family’s name. What’s there to inherit and by whom if everyone and everything is dying off? However, if you continued to have faith in God, you inherit eternal life and get to live in God’s kingdom. While being on earth you can inherit freedom and start life over healthy far away from the plague.
Succession: As for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales the mankind is in that dreary position where things get from worse to worse. There’s no future, hope, nor inheritance for the characters in many of the stories.
In conclusion, the fundamental themes used to construct this essay were relied on the fact that in my opinion, Boccaccio’s Decameron is closer to Hebrew/Christian/medieval literature and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are closer in outlook to Greek/Roman literature. It depended on the type of literature that’s being talked about in order to the discuss the fundamental themes.
Thanks for reading this last essay of mine for English literature part 2! Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this last term paper topic. For those who are finishing up this course I wish you best of success and wish you to get the knowledge this course provides us with. As always have a great rest of your day and see you on my next course!