English II: Western Literature to 1492 was an enlightening course filled with early Christian mysticism, intriguing dialogues and a valuable insight into the lives and culture of the ancient and early Christian world. As a completion for this course, I was asked to write a term paper on this topic: “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?”
Boccaccio’s Decameron was the story of the Black Death, a plague that swept through Europe multiple times, destroying over two-thirds of the population. In this book, Boccaccio constantly pointed fingers at the clergy and the Church. He demeaned the friars and the priests, accusing them of immoral practices. He didn’t focus at all on the glory of God and man’s inability to accomplish anything without him.
This was completely contrary to the view that was portrayed in medieval literature, which focused on God far more that any Renaissance work ever did.
As far as it goes compared to Hebrew and Christian literature, it’s night and day. Boccaccio expressed a view of Man vs. the Church, something completely contrary to the Christian and Hebrew texts. And instead of a focus on the intense, immovable piety of man through the Church, it focused on individualism and the nit-picking of everyday life. Continue reading