Lessons of Good and Evil in The Inferno
In The Inferno, Dante explores the ideas of Good and Evil. He expands on the possibilities of life and death, and he makes clear that consequences follow actions. Like a small generator moving a small wheel, Dante uses a single character to move through the entire of Hell's eternity. Yet, like a clock, that small wheel is pivotal in turning many, many others. This single character, Dante himself, reveals the most important abstract meaning in himself: A message to man; a warning about mankind's destiny. Through his adventures, Dante is able to reveal many global concepts of good and evil in humanity.
Dante represents mankind's potential. He falls to the temptations of this world, and then through the Grace of God, human reason, and the depths of Hell, he is able to regain the Light that he had lost. Each step of his journey represents a warning to man about the possible outcomes of his actions. The journey itself and the situation that Dante is in represents mankind's current position. And his exits from Hell gives hope to all those "who enter here" and stray from the Narrow Path. As Dante went through Hell, so must mankind, however, just as Dante had Virgil as his guide, so mankind now has reason and Faith to guide him.
Reason and Faith are not guides that will demand to be followed. Neither are they very loud in voicing their opinions. For this reason, mankind is now lost in that same "Dark Wood of Error" in which Dante found himself at the beginning of The Inferno. Too often we try to amend our wrongs by aiming for the high goal of the Mount of Joy for which Dante also aimed, but just as Dante could not reach it alone, so we are finding that our human efforts are reaching dead-ends. Even so, we continue to try to run from the Three Beasts of Worldliness in our own attempt to reach the Mount of Joy. And in so doing, we also are running from the only possible way to gain that Joy: The reason and faith that have the power to guide us.
Why do we not enter into Hell ourselves and conquer our fears? Upon the gates of Hell rest the warning which drives us back towards the Mount every time we think to turn back: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here." At the foot of the Mount of Joy rest the three Beasts, of our own creation, which drive us back into the Woods. We're stuck between a very big rock and a very hard place. Eventually some do abandon all hope and enter into Hell... never to return. It is with reason and faith alone that we can enter into Hell and be guided to a safe return.
Reason, logic, and pure thought are the compasses of humanity. Unfortunately, today no one even bothers to look at the compass or to ask for directions. The lack of logic and reason in our everyday decisions leads to the larger scale chaos that results from apathetic actions. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, as in Dante's case, we have slipped from our guide of Reason and shown pity to...