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dante and chaucer - HE217 Section 1001 LT Waggoner 12...

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HE217 / Section 1001 LT Waggoner 12 December 2005 On the Infliction of Punishment: A Comparison of the literary works of Dante and Chaucer and their Relevance to Modern Society Leonardo da Vinci once said: “He who does not punish evil commands it to be done . Throughout history , mankind has struggled to define the meaning , as well as the necessity of punishment . Cesare Beccaria , an aristocrat from Italy born in the 18 th century , challenged his societal status to promulgate his principles by writing On Crime and Punishments . Among other ideals , Beccaria believed it was necessary that punishment be nonviolent , as opposed to the techniques used in the French Revolution , such as beheadings . He thought punishment should encourage the culprit to believe that the penalty was not worth committing the crime because the consequences were too great , such as spending years in prison . The “eye for an eye” nature of punishment we see in Dante’s Inferno as well as Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale is considerably different from the standards of Beccaria , as the aristocrat believed that there should be government intervention in punishment . Beccaria believed divine punishment could not account for crimes against society and punishment resolved between two men only resulted in bitterness or more criminal acts against each other . While Beccaria’s work is considered one of the great resources of our time , it does not account for human nature or answer questions of an afterlife , and therefore we must look at the works of Dante and Chaucer to learn about the human effects of punishment .
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In The Miller’s Tale , Geoffrey Chaucer explores punishment and its relation to elements of human nature , such as jealousy .
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