The Allegorical Mechanisms Used By Dante In His Inferno

1004 words - 5 pages

Once said by Dante, “In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straightway was lost.” Dante consciously realizes that he’s “lost”, and sees no clear path before him. He’s at a standpoint of his life where the path of the future isn’t clearly seen. He must now find his path and his true purpose by descending down into the Inferno. Therefore, although Dante reflects the most informed theological thought on hell, he is certainly not constrained by it (Barolini). Dante masterfully constructs his hell and is “the first Christian writer to combine the popular material with the theological and philosophical systems of his day” (Morgan). Having a view ...view middle of the document...

His Inferno act’s as a sort of warning to the common man, showing that if you wrong others, like he was wronged, then there was something waiting for you at the end of your journey of life on earth. The crime that you commit fits the punishment you receive, this is called contrapasso and Dante fully utilizes it (Barolini). Farinata who was a part of an opposing political party was encased in a tomb of flames as his punishment. His crime? Being in a different political standing than Dante. Progressing through the dark times of his life, Dante became stronger (James).
At the advent of Dante’s descent he encounters three beasts that “force” him to go down a certain path; the she-wolf, the lion, and the leopard. Foremost the beasts represent the opposing political party that exiled Dante by “forcing” him into exile, with the threat of death if he returned to Florence. The beasts “force” Dante into descending into the Inferno, with certain death if he defied their wishes. The she-wolf is perhaps the most fearsome of the three, “because the wolf devours those who cross her path (Davis). Both greedy and whorish, the she-wolf is identified with avarice with a lust for power as well as money, combining violence and corruption, using all means to fill her insatiable maw (Davis). Most luridly represented by the papacy, Dante believed that pope and clerics could only be entrusted with alms to be given to the poor. “They were dispensers but not proprietors (Davis.) A figure known as the “veltro” or Greyhound is prophesized by Virgil to destroy the she-wolf. It is thought that the Greyhound symbolizes the second coming of Christ (Gilbert). What Dante means is that only Christ himself has the power to end the turmoil in Florence and restore order and prosperity. The lion represents the pride of the Florentine noblemen and even the pope himself; tying hand in hand with the corruptness of Florentine aristocracy and the current events Florence. Finally the leopard represents all that Dante hates...

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