Full Circle – from Sin to Salvation
Great works of literature have been written throughout history. However, The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost have the inept ability to stir the soul and cause a person to examine and re-examine their life. The brilliant descriptions, use of imagery, metaphor and simile give a person a vivid picture of the creation of man and the possibilities for life in the hereafter. This is done, as a person is able to see, full circle, from the beginning of time to the end of time, the consequences of turning away from God. The ability to see a life full circle is apparent through the examination of both of these poems. Although written many years ago, the morals and principles that they convey ring very true for people in this century as well as times yet to come.
The Divine Comedy, written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri, is a heroic epic. Throughout Dante’s literary work, he outlines his scientific understandings of the world, his political views and provides the reader with a moral compass and spiritual map of which to follow. This poem is written in three parts, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio, each of which is broken down into individual cantos. Inferno includes 34 cantos, whereas Purgatrio and Paradiso each contain 33 cantos, however, the first canto of Inferno is really an introduction to the poem.
The primary characters in Dante’s poem include himself, who is also the narrator, Virgil, a poet he has admired, who serves as his guide through most of the first two sections, and finally, Beatrice, his inspiration, who greets him at Paradisio and escorts him through the remainder of his journey.
Dante experiences a vision, at the age of 35, after experiencing traumatic events in his hometown of Florence. The events that are occurring in Florence at the time are associated with papal corruption and cause Dante to be forced into exile. Following the vision, which confirms to Dante that he has strayed from the right path in life, Dante begins his travel through the three realms, which contain the possible consequences following a person’s death. Dante’s journey begins on Good Friday, when he is escorted to the gates of Hell, moves to Purgatory and ends in Heaven. However, an escort accompanies him for duration of his journey. Virgil, who Dante has long admired, escorts Dante through Hell and...
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...or not to obey the Father in the partaking of the fruit. Faith becomes a common theme through questions that are answered within the poems. Raphael answers Adam and reveals the meaning and importance of faith. The same thing occurs in Dante’s poem when St. Peter gives him information.
In Milton’s poem we see and feel that the character of Eve is somehow not as important as the character of Adam. This is evident in the way Adam is consulted while Eve is left to herself in times of important conversations. In Book eight, Adam says that Eve is “th’ inferior, in the mind and inward faculties.” (Paradise Lost, book 8, line 317-318) Eve is a submissive character in Paradise Lost. On the other hand, Beatrice, in Dante’s The Divine Comedy, is a strong character and leads Dante. The use of numbers is very important in Dante’s poem as the number three reveals itself several times as well as the number seven. This is not a characteristic found in Paradise Lost.
Both poems inspire their reader to look at their own life. In addition, they treat the reader to a full serving of historic literature that not only entertains, but also teaches valuable lesson in the form of morals and principles.
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Out of ever perplexity Dante faces throughout his journeys in Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, this one of merit and grace is the most significant one. This thought entails what the whole Comedia is about by essentially determining the principal matter of his revolutionary work – each one’s merit produced by God’s grace. His use of “merit” and “grace” brings the reader’s attention to focus on how this determines the measurement of understanding. The tension between merit and grace plays one of the most important roles in the Divine Comedy because it is seen everywhere especially when Dante finally learns to understand each step of his journey. Dante is enlightened on the judgment of souls and he devotes himself to reach grace and, ultimately, sanctity.
In Purgatorio, Dante’s journey continues under Virgil’s guidance from preparing to ascend the mountain of Purgatory until reaching the garden of earthly paradise, at which point Beatrice arrives to take on the role of guide through the rest of purgatory. However, along the way, Dante interacts with several other secondary guides on brief portions of his journey. Individually, Cato, Sordello, Statius, and Matelda serve as corrected counterparts to other characters in the Divine Comedy, classical mythology, and the Bible. Collectively, Cato, Sordello, Statius, and Matelda serve to bridge classical and Christian teachings, both of which are critical in defining the values of Dante-author’s Purgatory, and in shaping Dante-character’s will as the purpose of the journey through purgatory.
The Divine Comedy written by Dante is one of the greatest poems ever written based on the fact that it is an autobiography as well as an allegory. It is considered an autobiography of Dante because he uses his personal experiences as motivation and inspiration. The beginning of first poem in The Divine Comedy, The Inferno, is related to the emotions Dante experienced after being exiled from Florence. He is wandering in the woods when he comes up to the bottom of a hill and starts to climb it before he is stopped by three creatures. This scene relates to how lost and confused Dante felt, along with feeling like he was attacked. By using his personal experiences and emotions, Dante actually wrote what is known as an allegory. Gay Johnson
In Dante’s Inferno, the relationship between Dante the Pilgrim and Virgil the Guide is an ever-evolving one. By analyzing the transformation of this relationship as the two sojourn through the circles of hell, one is able to learn more about the mindset of Dante the Poet. At the outset, Dante is clearly subservient to Virgil, whom he holds in high esteem for his literary genius. However, as the work progresses, Virgil facilitates Dante’s spiritual enlightenment, so that by the end, Dante has ascended to Virgil’s spiritual level and has in many respects surpassed him. In Dante’s journey with respect to Virgil, one can see man’s spiritual journey towards understanding God. While God loves man regardless of his faults, His greatest desire is to see man attain greater spirituality, in that man, already created in God’s image, may truly become divine, and in doing so, attain eternality.
That is symbolic of the nature of the human life and human beings. All human beings are new to life that only goes once. There is importance in making sound decisions not to get lost in the motions of life forever. The role of God or the Holy Spirit is seen in the guidance by Virgil. All that Dante needs to do is follow the lead of the one that knows much more than him. The use of the holy days to journey through hell in the narration gives the reader the authority to associate some of the events of the journey with spirituality and God. The guidance of Virgil is also legitimate because he leads Dante to the
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is said to be the single greatest epic poem of all time. The opening story of the character of Dante the Pilgrim is told in the first of the three divisions: The Inferno. The Inferno is a description of Dante’s journey down through Hell and of the several degrees of suffering and many mythical creatures that he encounters on the way. Throughout his travel Dante displays many different feelings and actions but the emotion that summarizes the entire poem is fear. While some of his character traits change as his mind matures and acknowledges the justice being carried out, from the very beginning until the final Canto, his fear does not subside. This does well to reinforce the symbolism of Dante as Everyman and serves to direct the reader to the moral purpose of Divine Comedy, because of the humility and dependence upon God that fear produces. In the first Canto, which serves as an introduction to the entire comedy, Dante encounters the three beasts which impede his progress out of the dark woods. Coming upon the She-Wolf he writes: "This last beast brought my spirit down so low / with fear that seized me at the sight of her, / lost all hope of going up the hill" (I.52-54). Dante is so shaken by the appearances of the three beasts that he rushes headlong into the dark woods he has just come out of. This is only the first obstacle Dante encounters, but it proves an insurmountable one.
Dante’s Inferno presents the reader with many questions and thought provoking dialogue to interpret. These crossroads provide points of contemplation and thought. Dante’s graphic depiction of hell and its eternal punishment is filled with imagery and allegorical meanings. Examining one of these cruxes of why there is a rift in the pits of hell, can lead the reader to interpret why Dante used the language he did to relate the Idea of a Just and perfect punishment by God.
Dante's "Inferno" is full of themes. But the most frequent is that of the weakness of human nature. Dante's descent into hell is initially so that Dante can see how he can better live his life, free of weaknesses that may ultimately be his ticket to hell. Through the first ten cantos, Dante portrays how each level of his hell is a manifestation of human weakness and a loss of hope, which ultimately Dante uses to purge and learn from. Dante, himself, is about to fall into the weaknesses of humans, before there is some divine intervention on the part of his love Beatrice, who is in heaven. He is sent on a journey to hell in order for Dante to see, smell, and hear hell. As we see this experience brings out Dante's weakness' of cowardice, wrath and unworthiness. He is lead by Virgil, who is a representation of intellect. Through Dante's experiences he will purge his sins.
In conclusion, a great deal of tension and contrast between “dark” and “light” in The Inferno helps us to explore Dante’s self portrait—he fears dangerous desires and sinful darkness, but shows much courage and hope towards life since he nevertheless follows his guide Virgil to dive into horrible Hell. As shown in Canto I, such emotional reaction to dark and light symbols lays a great foundation for developing Dante’s broad and universal traits as his journey progresses.
“Midway along the journey of our life” (Canto 1) Dante the Pilgrim says at the beginning of his journey. Through out the comedy and the Pilgrims vision of hell, I believe he was truly on a journey of self-discovery. Dante encountered a guide to help him in his journey throughout the nine circles of hell. Going deeper and deeper into hell Dante realized many different sins that he could have committed in his life and realized the things that he did not need anymore. Base on the end of his journey I believe that Dante truly found himself and found a new person within himself.
In conclusion, we can see that Dante presents the reader with a potentially life-altering chance to participate in his journey through Hell. Not only are we allowed to follow Dante's own soul-searching journey, we ourselves are pressed to examine the state of our own souls in relation to the souls in Inferno. It is not just a story to entertain us; it is a display of human decision and the perpetual impact of those decisions.
When “Dante” speaks to “Virgil” near the beginning of Inferno, he understands that he is not yet like Aeneas and Paul (Dante 1.2.32). He says that, unlike these two voyagers, his travels cannot profit others because of his soul's state of habitual sin. “Dante” briefly explains his reluctance to begin his odyssey, saying, “if I consent to start this journey, / I fear my venture will be wild and empty” (Dante 1.2.34-35). In this section, Dante uses Virgil's characterization of Aeneas to provide a strong contrast to the character “Dante” of Inferno. According to Dante, Aeneas completes a heaven-sent mission in founding his city, because Rome eventually becomes the home of the Papacy and the Church. In direct opposition to the mindset, at the start of the Commedia, “Dante” perceives himself as a man astray from the True Path; he does not believe that his voyage can ever ultimately lead to salvation in the way that Aeneas's did.
In conclusion, Paradise Lost can be seen through a historically contextual lens that allows us to see the parallels between Milton’s life and experiences during the reign of Charles I, and the predominant themes in his epic poem. Many of the themes in Paradise Lost, from the broader situational occurrences to the behavior of individual character’s and their attitudes toward the situations in which they find themselves can be seen as directly influenced by Milton’s time as a Parliamentarian in 17th century England.
Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton uses various tools of the epic to convey a traditional and very popular Biblical story. He adds his own touches to make it more of an epic and to set forth new insights into God's ways and the temptations we all face. Through his uses of love, war, heroism, and allusion, Milton crafted an epic; through his references to the Bible and his selection of Christ as the hero, he set forth a beautifully religious Renaissance work. He masterfully combined these two techniques to create a beautiful story capable of withstanding the test of time and touching its readers for centuries.
Paradise Lost is one of the finest examples of the epic tradition in all of literature. In composing this extraordinary work, John Milton was, for the most part, following in the manner of epic poets of past centuries: Barbara Lewalski notes that Paradise Lost is an "epic whose closest structural affinities are to Virgil's Aeneid . . . "; she continues, however, to state that we now recognize as well the influence of epic traditions and the presence of epic features other than Virgilian. Among the poem's Homeric elements are its Iliadic subject, the death and woe resulting from an act of disobedience; the portrayal of Satan as an Archillean hero motivated by a sense of injured merit and also as an Odyssean hero of wiles and craft; the description of Satan's perilous Odyssey to find a new homeland; and the battle scenes in heaven. . . . The poem also incorporates a Hesiodic gigantomachy; numerous Ovidian metamorphoses; an Ariostan Paradise of Fools; [and] Spenserian allegorical figures (Sin and Death) . . . . (3)