Dantes Inferno Essay, Research Paper
Dante the Pilgrim was once a spiritual and holy man, but as of recently he had felt less than holy. Yet, he still wants to remain spiritual. To do this, Dante must recognize the true nature of his sin(s), renounce them, and pay penance for them by travelling though the nine levels of hell. Dante the Author constructs several perspectives in the poem starting here. The light and dark imagery that will become repetitive and more abundant in later cantos. The light represents reason, truth, righteousness, and goodness. The main points in canto two lie in the fact that Dante introduces the character of Beatrice. Dante held her in high regard and thus immortalized her in his literature. In Canto III Dante and Virgil enter the gate that leads to the Vestibule of Hell, a place described as “nowhere.” Here, “souls who lived a life but lived it with no blame and no praise” (ln 36) must spend their eternity. In Canto IV, Dante awakens and finds himself “upon the brink of grief’s abysmal valley” (ln 8). This is the first level of hell, known as Limbo. Here, the virtuous non Christians dwell. This is the circle that Virgil resides in. The shades that belong to this circle have not sinned, but are condemned to hell because they have not been baptized or came before Christ’s birth. They receive no pain from their punishment. Yet, they must live without ever seeing God. This random condemnation rubs me the wrong way because it condems people for events out of their control, their birth. It also condems them for not being baptised which seems to go against the forgiving God notion. In Canto V, Dante and Virgil descend into the Second Circle of Hell, Lustful. At the gate to the circle stands Minos, son of Zeus and Europa, King of Crete, and known for his wisdom and judicial kings. His purpose is to appoint all that enter hell to what level of hell they must go. After strong words from Virgil, Minos allows them to pass. Dante wakes to find himself in the Third Circle of Hell, where the Gluttonous are punished. Here, the punishment is a “round of rain, eternal, cursed, cold, and falling heavy, changing beat, unchanging quality.” (ln 8). As Dante and Virgil descend into the Fourth Circle, they meet Plutus, the god of Wealth. At a word from Virgil, Plutus falls to the ground. Entering the Fourth Circle, Dante notes that “more shades were here than anywhere else.” (ln 25). At the end of the Fifth Circle of Hell: Wrathful Dante becomes scared, and even Virgil becomes a bit timid. Nontheless, Virgil remains positive and says,”Do not fear, the journey we are making none can prevent; such power did decree it” (ln 104-105). That statement is a perfect example of the God given nature that Dante says is behind his mission. Dante continues to make himself comperable to Jesus and also gives the reader the impresion that he is watched over by God. These two ideas are both preposterous and arogent in the extream and revolt me. In Canto IX, The City of Dis, Dante and Virgil remain at the gates waiting for heaven to send help. To pass time and to keep Dante positive, Virgil tells Dante the story of when he was forced to go to the very bottom of Hell to bring up the soul of a traitor (The last circle of hell is that of Traitors, where Judas can be found). Here again, we see Dante waiting for heavens help, assumimg that God has nothing better to do than help him out. This is designed to make the reader admire Dantes connections. This level of arrogance startled me. Before continuing deeper into the Sixth Circle of Hell, Virgil reassures Dante of the journey s purpose by stating, “When at last you stand in the glow of her sweet ray, the one whose splendid eyes see everything, from her you ll learn your life s itinerary” (ln 130-132). Need I say more? This could be another veiled reference to Beatrice, a women Dante has a rather twisted obsesion with or, more than likely, it is another hint, God loves me!! The Seventh Level consists of those that are violent. In the Violent, three more classes exist and are leveled accordingly: to one s neighbor, to self, and to God… The Violents sinners can best be described as a man who kills or wounds someone else by means of arson, theft, or devastation. The first class are those who are violent to their neighbors, whether it be from malice, homicide, or plundering. The second are those who raise a hand against themselves, such as in suicide, or those who gamble all their wealth away and weep when they should have rejoiced. The third and final class are those who are violent against God, either by cursing God s name or by despising Nature and God s bounty. This canto was interesting in that it didn t contain a catagory for mentally violent people, pople who hurt someone with words, not actions. Canto XVIII The travelers descend father into the Ninth Circle, or Cocytus. The landscape here is a lake of ice that is “more like a sheet of glass than frozen water” (ln 23).