The Dark Wood of Error by Dante Alighieri Essay

The Dark Wood of Error by Dante Alighieri Essay

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Words… Without them what would life be? They can mean so much when strung together correctly, but can also just be a senseless jumble of nothingness. Children often struggle to overcome the tiresome task of spelling: a seemingly meaningless string of letters. Even after that is accomplished, there are still so many different meanings to words. Words can be interpreted in any way the suits the reader at that moment in time. The word “spirit,” for example, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power (Merriam-Webster). In Dante Alighieri’s The Dark Wood of Error, taken from The Divine Comedy, he uses the word spirit in line 25 while describing a dangerous “obstacle” that no one has ever survived. Spirit is a word that has multiple meanings to it, which can change the meaning of this portion of the poem- lines 22 through 27- depending on the way the reader interprets it.
Dante wrote The Divine Comedy in a new language he called “Italian,” which was based upon Tuscan Dialects, Sicilian and some elements of Latin, and various other dialects (Kahn). Spirit is derived from the Italian word “spirito,” which ultimately means one’s soul (Collins). One would believe that this meaning of the word is the one that Dante intended to use in this poem. He is saying that his “spirit” or “soul” is a fugitive to everything that he has had to endure. He is the first person to ever survive this sort of exhausting way of life, but even though he did, he is still not necessarily “alive.” The “dangerous waters” he encountered could have been hard times in his life that he will never be able to completely escape from. He will forever be a fugitive to his own soul, to his own ...


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...oever may be reading the poem; all of them have a surface level and a deeper meaning that affects the meaning of that part of the poem. Soul, ghost, attitude, each definition changes the way the man in the poem lives the rest of his life (or in one case does not live.) No one can be sure of how the narrator really ended up being; that is for the reader to decide on their own.



Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante. "The Divine Comedy, "The Dark Wood of Error"." n.d. 23.
Collins. Collins English-Italian Dictionary. 2014. April 2014 .
Harper, Douglas. Online Etymolgy Dictionary. 2001-2014. 2014 .
Kahn, Kathy. Poetry Liz Short. March 2014.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam- Webster Dictionary- Spirit. 2014. March 2014 .

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