Dante Alighieri introduces Virgil in the latter half of the Inferno in Canto I(1). The poem begins with Dante the pilgrim in a dark wood and the symbolism begins immediately. Dante the pilgrim is lost in a “dark wood”(symbol for lack of reason) (Dante 1465), wandering about lost until he see 's a hill bathed in light in the midst of the dark wood. Trying to ascend the hill Dante 's path is blocked by three beasts that force Dante back into the wood, “She forced me back to where the sun is mute” (Dante 1466, line 60). Dante is being forced back into the ignorance of the “Dark wood”. Dante the pilgrim describes the appearance of a figure, “While I was rushing down to that low place, my eyes made out a figure coming toward me of one grown faint, perhaps from to much silence” (Dante 1466-67,line60-63). The words 'one grown faint, -from to much silence ' describe how Dante the pilgrim has not used reason to guide his faith and keep him on the narrow path in a long time. Thus he is lost in a dark wood of ignorance. The hill bathed in light is a symbol showing how Dante has had a moment of clarity, realizing that he has lost his way. Virgil appears suddenly to guide Dante back to his faith. Virgil here is a symbol of Dante regaining his reason and realizing he must start down the path to hell. applyi...
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...rs of meaning, Dante Alighieri paints the character of Virgil as reason using a complex system of symbolism and allegory. Using demons, darkness, fire, shining castles and hidden meanings to convey the difficult and complex ideal of understanding god 's plan and justice through the use of reason granted by that same god. He shows how reason alone is not enough to understand divine order, “Naturally this does not occur suddenly, as Teodolinda Barolini notes in Dante’s Poets, observing that Vergil does not lose his authority all at once, but in a more subtle fashion, step by step from the moment he enters the poem. When Vergil arrives, an hourglass is set, and the grains of sand fall one by one until, in Purgatorio XXX, the glass is empty. (202)” (Fiorentina Russo page 5) Dante Alighieri multilayered narrative is as beautiful as it is complex in its conveyance of ideas.
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