Divine Comedy Essay, Research Paper
Divine ComedyDante’s Divine Comedy is a moral comedy that is designed to makethe readersthink about their own morals. The poem could have been used almost as aguide for whatand what not to do to get into Heaven for the medieval people. Dantetakes the reader ona journey through the “afterlife” to imprint in the readers minds whatcould happen to themif they don’t follow a Godlike life and to really make the reader thinkabout where they willgo when they die and where they would like to go when they die. In theDivine Comedy,Dante uses his imagination and his knowledge of the people’s perception ofthe “afterlife”to create a somewhat realistic yet somewhat imaginary model of theafterlife. In the first lines of the Divine Comedy, Dante says “In the middleof the journey ofour life I came to my senses in a dark forest, for I had lost the straightpath.”(Dante 1416lines 1-3) This is the typical stereotype of today for when a personbecomes “lost” orconsumed in sin. The sinful life is a dark life and a sinless life is abright, white, and purelife. Dante’s coming to his senses in a dark forest symbolizes hisrealizing how “lost” in sinhe truly was and realizing that he needed to do something about it,meaning he needed togo through the seven sacraments so that he could become pure enough to seeGod inParadise and not have to spend and eternity in Hell. Dante realized thathe had strayedfrom the true faith without realizing it, not knowing exactly how ithappened, and is tryingto return. Losing the straight path symbolizes losing the holy, pure, orGodlike life.Darkness is more or less a symbol of evil and light or brightness a symbolfor good.Throughout the poem, Dante is advocating that man must consciously aim forrighteousness and morality. People can often become so involved withday-to-day livingthat they will fall into a life consumed with sin. Man must always beaware of his needto perform righteously. The dark forest symbolizes a human life whereevery wakingmoment is not consciously devoted to morals and righteousness. The Inferno is probably the most realistic section of the DivineComedy because itcomes closer to fitting the people’s perception of what Hell is reallylike then thanPurgatory and Paradise do. People’s mental image of Hell is an evil,dark, and scary placethat is full of fire and that is exactly the way Dante depicts it. Peopleare eager to see, hear,and read about violence, blood, and gore and the Inferno is full of itwhich helps the readerto pay closer attention to it. In a sense Dante is trying to scare therighteousness intopeople. Dante himself became scared when he read the inscription abovethe gate of Hellthat read “ABANDON EVERY HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE” (1424) because hedid not realize that the inscription was only intended for those who hadalready died. Theinscription implies the horror of total despair. It suggests that anyonethat enters Hell atanytime must abandon all hope, so Dante thought he was included in this. Hell is the placefor those who deliberately and consciously chose an evil way of life. There is a place inHell called the Vestibule for people who did not make a conscious choice
between Heavenand Hell. Dante emphasizes that Hell is for those who chose it and thatchoice isirrevocable. If you commit an act of sin you will be automaticallycondemned to Hell. Theentire basis of Hell is that it is for those who died unrepentant of theirsins. Hell is filledwith people whom at the moment of death were either unrepentant or weresaved but werestill committing the same sins. In Hell you get exactly what you giveforever. Purgatory is a place that not many protestants know about or thinkabout so it is notas familiar to people as Heaven and Hell are. All our lives people aretaught that if you sinyou will go to Hell and if you don’t sin you will go to Heaven; there hasnever been any inbetween. Purgatory is a place for people whom either repented shortlybefore they diedor have not yet completed the process of repentance or all of the sevensacraments. Unlike Hell where it is eternal, people in Purgatory will eventuallycomplete their penanceand make it to Paradise the Kingdom of God. If you are in Purgatory youare on your wayto Paradise or Heaven but you still need some cleansing but you willeventually make it intoParadise. Purgatory is not eternal. Purgatory is not probation or apunishment; the peoplethere are glad to be there because they know that someday they will be atGod’s side inParadise. Purgatory is a place of discipline. This is one of the moreimaginary elements ofthe Divine Comedy because we do not know much about it, although we reallydo notknow much about Heaven or Hell either except for what we read about in theBible andthere really are not many references to Purgatory in the Bible. Dante depicts Paradise as a very Holy and beautiful place which ishow peopleperceive it, but it is still different in many ways. Paradise is a placeof reward for peoplewhom consciously chose a righteous way of life. To enter Paradise aperson must bewashed pure and white as snow. To be saved is not enough to get intoParadise; you musteither live a fully righteous and Godlike life, or you must be repentantfor all sins. In orderto repent you must go through the seven sacraments of baptism,confirmation, matrimony,extreme unction, Eucharist, ordination, and penance step- by-step. DantedepictedParadise as a White Rose or Mystic Rose in which God was at the center andsaintssurrounded Him. This is a good picture in that a white rose symbolizespurity, perfectionand divine love which are all characteristics of God, so it is fittingthat God place is thronein the center of a white rose. The white rose is a fitting word picturefor God, but is justdifferent from what people would imagine as the home or throne of God. The Divine Comedy was a somewhat realistic yet somewhat imaginarystory thatentertained millions and was used as a guide for the medieval people. Youcould say thatDante hasone of the biggest most active imaginations ever to have been able tocreate a story like theDivine Comedy. The entire story was a figment of his imagination becausethere has notbeen any person that has died and traveled to Hell, Purgatory, or Paradiseand come backto tell the world about it. Many portions of it would be the same as somepeople’s picturesof it but many portions are different. It would be a great challenge togo back and try towrite your own picture of the afterlife.