My Reaction To Dante's Inferno Essay

1009 words - 4 pages

While I was looking back through all the freewrites I had written about Dante's The Divine Comedy I realized how much I had really progressed in my understanding of the poem itself, and in doing so had really been given a whole new view on religion and spirituality. The freewrite that showed this growth to me the most was the second one we had written after reading Canto's III and IV. I had a rather strong reaction to the ideas presented to me within those sections that dealt with the concept of Limbo. That reaction brought on somewhat of a domino effect, bringing up even larger issues for me that had to do with my views on Christianity and the assumptions I made about it. Through further reading and class discussions I was able to start looking The Divine Comedy with a whole new angle, allowing me to grasp Dante's message of being responsible for your actions so that you can be in control of your own fate.
Limbo was making little sense to me. I could not comprehend how God could let these worthy souls, especially Virgil, not go up to heaven just because of certain technicalities that were beyond their control, such as not living in a time of Christianity or living in a culture that was not Christian. Or being held up because of something as small as not being baptised. It seemed so arbitrary to me that God could get so hung up on these details and punish those souls by not permitting them to go to heaven even though they seemed to deserve it.
I am really not religious at all, and I have a lot of my own views about the afterlife and God. Realizing that my values are probably different than the average Christian, I adopted what I think of as the "normal" Christian view when I go into anything that deals with religion. That view, to be simplistic about it, is that we go through life, and when we die, God either rewards or punishes us for the life we led by sending us to heaven or hell. So when I began reading The Divine Comedy, I was trying to apply that overly simplistic view to the poem, and it led to a lot of confusion for me. I had to overcome my assumption that God was the judgemental ruler and determiner of all things and realize that Dante wants us to understand that we have all the control over our fate because we have the power to choose right from wrong in any situation. In this poem, it's a matter of making the right decisions and doing the right things to lead a life of God, or its choosing to do the wrong thing, therefore giving your self a hellish existence.

        Dante gives us the idea that God is eternally forgiving and accepting of us. Therefore the people we see suffering so horribly all throughout the Inferno have...

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