Jill Mann

In Defence of Francesca: Human and Divine Love in Dante and Chaucer

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Dante and Chaucer, Francesca da Rimini, Troilus and Criseyde, Human and Divine love

This essay reconsiders the opposing critical views of Francesca, and argues that the text of Inferno V does not justify dismissing her love for Paolo as 'lust'. The link between the 'disiato riso' that prompts their first kiss, and the 'santo riso' of Beatrice, which reflects the divine vision and draws Dante on to Paradise, indicates that what links human and divine love is more important than what divides them. This view is supported by a comparison with Chaucer's treatment of human and divine love in Troilus and Criseyde: through echoes of Dante and of Guinizelli, Chaucer suggests that Troilus spontaneously discovers the divine as a dimension of human existence. As Chaucer saw, if the love represented by Francesca is rejected, the love represented by Beatrice ceases to have any experiential content, and love of God becomes empty verbiage.

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