dante and chaucer

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. Alisoun’s husband , John, is described as an envious man because his wife is young and vibrant , and has a number of men who
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This essay was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course HE 217 taught by Professor Waggoner during the Fall '05 term at Naval Academy.

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

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