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Divine Grace and Justice in Dante's Inferno

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Divine Justice and Grace in Inferno

The purpose of the pilgrim's journey through hell is to show, first hand, the divine justice of God and how Christian morality dictates how, and to what degree, sinners are punished. Also, the journey shows the significance of God's grace and how it affects not only the living, but the deceased as well. During his trip through hell, the character of Dante witnesses the true perfection of God's justice in that every sinner is punished in the same nature as their sins. For instance, the wrathful are to attack each other for all eternity and the soothsayers are forever to walk around with their heads on backwards. Furthermore, Dante discovers that hell is comprised of nine different circles containing sinners guilty of one type of sin, and that these circles are in order based upon how great an opposition the sin is to Christian morality and the ultimate will of God. We see here how Christianity plays a major role in the structure of hell and the degree to which each sinner is punished. Lastly, we can look at the story and see the importance of the grace of God not only to Dante during his journey, but how it affects the souls in hell and purgatory as well.

Upon entering hell with Virgil, Dante becomes witness to the true perfection of the justice done to sinners after their earthly life is over. This divine justice inflicted by God chooses to punish the souls in hell in a way very similar or representative to how the souls sinned on Earth. For instance, those guilty of the sin of wrath "tear each other limb from limb" (133), a punishment which directly relates to the actions of the sinners. However, there are also punishments that are more symbolic of the actions of the sinners, such as th...

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... a deep change. He is now hardened towards the sins of others and understands the meaning and presence of God's grace. He has overcome the perils of hell on his path towards paradise, and is well-adjusted for the next step of his journey. By gaining a new knowledge of God's methods of justice and punishment, Dante will be able to enter purgatory with a stronger, harder heart and an increased will to find God and His love. Inferno does well to teach Dante the pilgrim the importance of separating yourself from sin and entering into God's grace. The message of the piece can be applied to all mankind as well; that the ultimate goal of every man should be to overcome sin and to find God's love.

Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. Notes Allen Mandelbaum and Gabriel Marruzzo. New York: Bantam Books, 1980
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