Comparison of Dante's "Divine Comedy" and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  885 Words
Date:  2022-03-27


Various authors from different cultural backgrounds and time add significant content to literature which can be analyzed to present fascinating comparisons. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Dante's Divine Comedy are from the middle age's literature considered to be great masterpieces. The two influenced other writers over the past years to write in similar styles which offered essential support to literal development. Despite the significant differences between the two works, both have quite a lot in common ranging from themes and aims in their writing. They wrote from their experiences point of view as they highlighted details about the people, they encountered in their journeys to enhance the plot of their works.

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Vernacular Style and Travel Narratives

Firstly, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Dante's Divine Comedy used the same dialect writing style for most of their contents as they placed themselves as part of their projects. they were comprehensively engaged in the works of their time. As such, they were rendered the most famous writers of Europe during the medieval period (Hetherington 179). They traveled from place to the another and utilized their knowledge and experiences with people to disseminate their contents. For instance, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales highlights information of a group of individuals which is determined to stay involved in activities during their travels. Similarly, Dante's Divine Comedy, documents accounts of travel to Heaven, Hell and the agony (Lawall 172). The notion of these two stories is that people can change their perspectives and designs of their livelihood in their traveling. New environment, new friends, new feelings, new beginnings, which are the most imperative aspects for a human to embrace change in their lives regardless of the course of change. Some lives can be improved and some can be destroyed during the change process but the most important element is that there is a factor of change.

Personal Involvement and Economic Context

With the help of their common ideas and same vernacular style, Dante and Chaucer made their works more intrinsic and comprehensible in daily traditional talks. They were related to the economic scope of their nations. In light of this, they used money as well to emphasize their ideas. Also, the two authors used their personas to develop events in their writings. Dante included himself as a character in the Divine Comedy. His character talks to various characters to gain other stories from them. His work helps to analyze and derive solutions which can transform the world. Correspondingly, Chaucer offers points to guide the world. Like Dante, Chaucer offer description to the characters from his standpoint which makes the reader comprehend the two authors' participation (Chaucer and Morrison 52).

One important difference in their work is how they used different approaches in criticizing the rampant abuses in churches and other injustices. Most people were staunch Christians during this time but corruption was quite widespread in the churches and they both treated the matter with the disapproval it deserved. Chaucer, relied largely on humor and sarcasm while Dante was more disparaging and moralistic in his approaches to tackle the injustices. In the Divine Comedy by Dante, Pope Boniface VIII is presented as on the undisputed villains. Dante was quite critical about the Pope extending the Church's temporal powers while compromising the secular powers. He used forged documents to create the extension which was hardly added to his allegations against him. Dante approached the matter with great hate and it led to personal vendetta among them. Dante had to exile leaving behind Florence his spouse due to the squalid entrenched power struggles instigated by the Pope's selfish reasons.

Criticism of Injustices in the Church

Chaucer's approach on providing solutions to the challenges in the church is gentler but influential for that matter. By subtle suggestions and integral hints, he progresses to demystify the many faults in the church. He is more descriptive than Dante for example in the General Prologue where the occurrence of the pilgrims offers a catchy idea of Christendom in that era. Dante is faced with a Prioress who notwithstanding being the custodian of a convent, is concerned with his personal pleasures and being proud of her wealth and fashionable lifestyle. Secondly, the Monk is also a problem to him since he is more concerned about worldly pleasures instead of ministering to believers who require the word of God. Another hypocrite is Friar who mistreats the poor, acquires his wealth from the Church's resource pool and rich nobility. Pockmarked Summoner is also a hypocrite that utilizes church pardons to acquire a large number of bribes in form of monetary value. He also criticizes the Pardoner who admits to providing fake leftovers.

Though the two are on a spiritual and physical journey, they present journey literature which implies that the metaphor of life portrayed as a journey inspires both of the writings. They both use their experiences and poems to depict their characters but effectively fictionalized and disguised to avert sacred and common implications. Dante puts portraits of the transgressors in his hell while Chaucer imitates of his time in the individuals on the entourage to Canterbury in the pilgrimage. Both achieve significant similarities in their works as well as significances differences in their aims.

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey and Morrison, Theodore. The Portable Chaucer: Revised Edition. New York: Penguin, 1977.

Hetherington, Norriss, S. Cosmology: Historical, Literary, Philosophical, Religious, and Scientific Perspectives. Taylor & Francis, 1993.

Lawall, Sarah. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. New York: Norton, 2006.

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Comparison of Dante's "Divine Comedy" and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales". (2022, Mar 27). Retrieved from

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