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The Weakness of Human Nature in Dante's Inferno

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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.

Within Canto 1, we see Dante leaving a dark forest. This forest represents all the human vices and corruption, a place similar to hell (canto 1, line 1-5, Alighieri). Dante wants to reach the hill top, where is sunny and warm, rather than be in the damp and cold forest. The hill top represents happiness and is a metaphor for heaven. But his path is stopped by three animals: a leopard (canto 1, line 25, Alighieri ) , lion (canto 1, line 36 Alighieri ) and she wolf (canto 1, line 38-41, Alighieri ). Each one represents a human weakness: the leopard is lust, the lion pride and the she wolf is avarice. They show that on the earthly plain human sin is a continual and harmful temptation. These animals try to strip him of his hope, his hope in the fact that he will some day be in heaven with God. They are temptations to lead him away and block his way to the hill top. Th...

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... shall see,

will change and become the man that Beatrice wanted, and it's all by

choice and by rejection of hell and all that the dark forest entails.

Work Cited

Alighieri, Dante. "The Inferno." The Divine Comedy. Trans. John Ciardi. New York: First New American Library Printing, 2003.

Work Consulted

Lummus, David. "Dante’s Inferno: Critical Reception and Influence." Dantes Inferno. Engerda: Arun, 2000. 63-79. Print.

Internet Sources Consulted

Brown, Sapphire M. "Referenes to Dantes Inferno." Humanities 360. 8 Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“Dante Alghieri and The Divine Comedy.” Vision.org. Vision.org: 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

"Dante Alighieri." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.

Wetherbee, Winthrop. "Dante Alighieri." Stanford University. Stanford University, 29 Jan. 2001. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
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