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JOHH Essay Research Paper Divine ComedyDante

JOHH Essay, Research Paper

Divine Comedy

Dante’s Divine Comedy is a moral comedy that is designed to make

the readers

think about their own morals. The poem could have been used almost as a

guide for what

and what not to do to get into Heaven for the medieval people. Dante

takes the reader on

a journey through the “afterlife” to imprint in the readers minds what

could happen to them

if they don’t follow a Godlike life and to really make the reader think

about where they will

go when they die and where they would like to go when they die. In the

Divine Comedy,

Dante uses his imagination and his knowledge of the people’s perception of

the “afterlife”

to create a somewhat realistic yet somewhat imaginary model of the


In the first lines of the Divine Comedy, Dante says “In the middle

of the journey of

our life I came to my senses in a dark forest, for I had lost the straight

path.”(Dante 1416

lines 1-3) This is the typical stereotype of today for when a person

becomes “lost” or

consumed in sin. The sinful life is a dark life and a sinless life is a

bright, white, and pure

life. Dante’s coming to his senses in a dark forest symbolizes his

realizing how “lost” in sin

he truly was and realizing that he needed to do something about it,

meaning he needed to

go through the seven sacraments so that he could become pure enough to see

God in

Paradise and not have to spend and eternity in Hell. Dante realized that

he had strayed

from the true faith without realizing it, not knowing exactly how it

happened, and is trying

to return. Losing the straight path symbolizes losing the holy, pure, or

Godlike life.

Darkness is more or less a symbol of evil and light or brightness a symbol

for good.

Throughout the poem, Dante is advocating that man must consciously aim for

righteousness and morality. People can often become so involved with

day-to-day living

that they will fall into a life consumed with sin. Man must always be

aware of his need

to perform righteously. The dark forest symbolizes a human life where

every waking

moment is not consciously devoted to morals and righteousness.

The Inferno is probably the most realistic section of the Divine

Comedy because it

comes closer to fitting the people’s perception of what Hell is really

like then than

Purgatory and Paradise do. People’s mental image of Hell is an evil,

dark, and scary place

that is full of fire and that is exactly the way Dante depicts it. People

are eager to see, hear,

and read about violence, blood, and gore and the Inferno is full of it

which helps the reader

to pay closer attention to it. In a sense Dante is trying to scare the

righteousness into

people. Dante himself became scared when he read the inscription above

the gate of Hell

that read “ABANDON EVERY HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE” (1424) because he

did not realize that the inscription was only intended for those who had

already died. The

inscription implies the horror of total despair. It suggests that anyone

that enters Hell at

anytime must abandon all hope, so Dante thought he was included in this.

Hell is the place

for those who deliberately and consciously chose an evil way of life.

There is a place in

Hell called the Vestibule for people who did not make a conscious choice

between Heaven

and Hell. Dante emphasizes that Hell is for those who chose it and that

choice is

irrevocable. If you commit an act of sin you will be automatically

condemned to Hell. The

entire basis of Hell is that it is for those who died unrepentant of their

sins. Hell is filled

with people whom at the moment of death were either unrepentant or were

saved but were

still committing the same sins. In Hell you get exactly what you give


Purgatory is a place that not many protestants know about or think

about so it is not

as familiar to people as Heaven and Hell are. All our lives people are

taught that if you sin

you will go to Hell and if you don’t sin you will go to Heaven; there has

never been any in

between. Purgatory is a place for people whom either repented shortly

before they died

or have not yet completed the process of repentance or all of the seven


Unlike Hell where it is eternal, people in Purgatory will eventually

complete their penance

and make it to Paradise the Kingdom of God. If you are in Purgatory you

are on your way

to Paradise or Heaven but you still need some cleansing but you will

eventually make it into

Paradise. Purgatory is not eternal. Purgatory is not probation or a

punishment; the people

there are glad to be there because they know that someday they will be at

God’s side in

Paradise. Purgatory is a place of discipline. This is one of the more

imaginary elements of

the Divine Comedy because we do not know much about it, although we really

do not

know much about Heaven or Hell either except for what we read about in the

Bible and

there really are not many references to Purgatory in the Bible.

Dante depicts Paradise as a very Holy and beautiful place which is

how people

perceive it, but it is still different in many ways. Paradise is a place

of reward for people

whom consciously chose a righteous way of life. To enter Paradise a

person must be

washed pure and white as snow. To be saved is not enough to get into

Paradise; you must

either live a fully righteous and Godlike life, or you must be repentant

for all sins. In order

to repent you must go through the seven sacraments of baptism,

confirmation, matrimony,

extreme unction, Eucharist, ordination, and penance step- by-step. Dante


Paradise as a White Rose or Mystic Rose in which God was at the center and


surrounded Him. This is a good picture in that a white rose symbolizes

purity, perfection

and divine love which are all characteristics of God, so it is fitting

that God place is throne

in the center of a white rose. The white rose is a fitting word picture

for God, but is just

different from what people would imagine as the home or throne of God.

The Divine Comedy was a somewhat realistic yet somewhat imaginary

story that

entertained millions and was used as a guide for the medieval people. You

could say that

Dante has

one of the biggest most active imaginations ever to have been able to

create a story like the

Divine Comedy. The entire story was a figment of his imagination because

there has not

been any person that has died and traveled to Hell, Purgatory, or Paradise

and come back

to tell the world about it. Many portions of it would be the same as some

people’s pictures

of it but many portions are different. It would be a great challenge to

go back and try to

write your own picture of the afterlife.


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