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The Decameron and those of The Canterbury Tales Essay

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“Human freedom manifests itself in laughter. The tyrants of this planet are not touched by the works of the poets: they yawn at their laments; they regard their heroic songs as silly fairy-tales; they go to sleep during their religious poems: they fear only one thing, their mockery.”
- Freidrich Durrenmatt
Comedy in its true sense is any form of work or discourse with the intention on being humorous and to promote any form of laughter. Comedy is found usually in theatre, film, or even in written forms like poetry or prose. The fourteenth century gave life to two amazing collections of stories, The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio and The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. While some differences between The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales are evident in plot and subject, the similarities between both titles are striking. The comparison and contrast of both collections under the themes Marriage, Love, Sex, and Humour will show how both authors internalized their surroundings to place them into their respective masterpieces.
Boccaccio was born in 1313 and was the son of a businessman who aspired for his son, Boccaccio, to becoming a banker. He was sent to Naples for training where he showed no enthusiasm for commerce, his love was for literature. The moment he was free from paternal constraints, he began his quest into becoming a prolific writer of the middle ages. In 1351 he gave light to The Decameron one of his most famous works (Boccaccio Intro.). The Decameron is the one hundred stories told by ten story tellers which each told ten stories over ten days. The word in its original meaning is derived from “dec” meaning ten. The Decameron tells tales of love, sex, violence, intrigue, humour a...


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...grinding of the corn as the actions of sex.
Boccaccio and Chaucer found ways to produce humour and wit against both Upper and lower classes. They accomplish this through the use of religious and sexual humour. Boccaccio mocks all classes equally over the course of the various stories that allows every class to laugh at themselves just as much as laugh at everyone else. Both collection of The Decameron and the Canterbury Tales brings its readers to experience many of comedy’s forms, the show themselves in tragicomedy, mistaken identity, satire, farce, dramatic irony, slapstick comedic relief and many instances of punning and wit.



Works Cited

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press Inc. 2008. Book. November 10, 2013.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Penguin Books. Course Pack. November 15, 2013.



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