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Dante’s Inferno And The Path To Enlightenment

774 words - 4 pages

In Dante’s thirty-fifth year he finds himself in a dark wood of confusion and misunderstanding, shrouded from the light of God. His vision is clouded by the temptations of worldliness so that he cannot see the true path towards Heaven. He emerges from the blind woods and comes upon three symbolic “beasts of worldliness”: the Leopard, symbolizing malice and fraud, the Lion, a symbol of violence and ambition, and the She-wolf of incontinence. He is physically driven back into the mysterious wood by these beasts and is hindered in his spiritual journey by the sins they represent. To assist him on his journey, Virgil appears in Cantos I to act as Dante’s guide and source of human reason as ...view middle of the document...

As they journey through the layers of hell, Virgil explains the diversity of punishments to Dante and provides insight into the nature of the sinful souls they observe. In Cantos XX, Virgil acts as an advisor once more when he reprimands Dante for letting his emotions take control of his judgment. They have just encountered the Fortune Tellers and the Diviners, who are located in the fourth Bolgia of the eighth Circle; their mutilated bodies make Dante weep with pity. These sinners, who aspired to gain an advantage in life by unholy means, were “so contorted that tears from their eyes ran down their buttocks…” Seeing the human form so mutilated makes Dante pity the sinners so that Virgil is compelled to admonish Dante for his tearful effrontery to God. He exclaims, “Are you still witless as the rest?” Because Dante’s emotions are distorting his reason, he is not acting in the right mind to understand God; in this moment, he becomes as stupid as the condemned souls that he weeps for. If Dante is to ever come to know the true nature of God’s love, he must first learn to acknowledge and accept the consequence of sin. If he wishes to ascend to the pinnacle of human reason, he must...

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