The Dante’s Tale of His Journey through Hell as a Confession

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Dante’s Divine Comedy is divided into three major “cantiche”: inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise). Each cantica is organized in multiples of three, with hell containing nine rings, equivalent to Purgatory’s nine terraces and paradise’s nine heavens. The number three represents the Holy Trinity, on which he bases his narrative poem about his journey into the afterlife. This form of afterlife story was popular in the Middle Ages. The visionary prophecy is an aspect of the medieval conception of creation, which is based on classical texts and biblical insights. Through different cantos, Dante describes his visions as recounts his journey through hell as a confession.

The text begins at the middle life of Dante where he is lost in the metaphorical dark word which signifies darkness. In canto I he recounts “midway upon the journey…I found myself within the dark forest…pathway had been lost (Dante and Longfellow: Canto 1, p. 3). Evidently, from onset Dante makes it clear that the story if a reflection of his journey and particularly that it is a confession. He argues that it is not an easy thing to admit that he was lost in the dark forest (Dante and Longfellow: I: p. 3). Moreover, when he sees sunlit hill he unable to clime it because of the fears of the beasts that frighten him back. The symbolic meaning of the wild beasts is that of sins which he confesses seems to get him back to hell where sinners belong. Conversely, the tale of his journey through hell becomes evident that from inside he admits that he is a sinner and the sin drove him to hell. He further confesses that his willingness to change and avert his sinful actions are thwarted by other factors.

When Dante meets with Vigil the Roman epic poet, it becomes apparent that Dante is encouraged by the fact that Beatrice (a woman he once loved very much) is looking upon him. His fears of going through hell are reduced by the desire to meet Beatrice again and his understanding that she cares. Through admission of fears and his soft part to Beatrice it is apparent that the journey is to through hell depicts his confessions of his fears and his willingness to try to change from sin. Dante’s fears are cleared away by the three heavenly ladies (the Virgin Mary, Saint Lucy and Beatrice) whom he believes that would protect him (Holloway 179). He learns that each sin is punished according to its severity going systematically from the lighter sin to severe sins of violence and others. Such representation shows his confession as partly through his observation of what happens in hell and how it happens.

In Canto VI, Dante awakens from is seen as a cold night filled with unending rain and the bad smell of rot and decay. The Canto revisits the covetous flounder wallow in the world and it was headed by Cerberus who was the traditional guardian of the Hell. Evidently, Dante’s fears are furnished by the different levels of suffering in hell. He inquires form Virgil if the suffering will continue to grow intense or will lessen after the judgment day. Such fears and visions informs Dante’s confession painting that he is concerned his future. The imagery of hell and sufferings of souls are his worries as he identifies the different levels of sin and their separate punishment by the devil and the custodians of hell.

In canto 18, Marcel Proust admits that wisdom is not just received by people but the must find it the seeking it as it happens in the voyage through the wilderness. The journey to the wilderness cannot be separated from the nature of human being and it forms the basic understanding of peoples of the mystery behind hell, heaven and earth. Dante Alighieri’s Inferno is based on this journey of wilderness to discover the wisdom or mystery behind the beginning and the end of human lives and souls. Through travelling the level of hell, Dante discovers the men and women in Hell and ultimately the reason behind their suffering as God punishes them there. Conversely, it is clear that Dante’s journey through hell is a confession not just about him but also other people. The guided journey through hell reveals that sinners are treated harshly as they burn in hell, thus, the confession is focused on the need for people to discover the ultimate wisdom. Such wisdom would allow people to discern what is right from wrong despite the challenges involved dong what is right.

Moreover, the Dante’s way of reasoning shows his confession about his imagination of hell through the dark wood perhaps based on the various traditional ideas. The characteristic of the reasoning as witnessed can be assumed to follow the medieval platonic image of the chaotic world and the classical word as describe by Virgil (Crisafulli and Thompson 150). Evidently, the confession of the journey through hell is painted out through the cultures of medieval period. Dante’s seems to confess that there is some darkness in the cultures of the people particularly as he discovers in his journey through hell. Clearly, he confesses that people are sinful and he does it by showing how each level of hell has its own members.

The text also confession of Dante about the nature of human weakness as he descends to hell. The descent to hell is meant to make Dante see how live in hell looks like and particularly so that he can understand why need to better his life in a free weakness that might be his ticket to hell (Thompson 58). That is why through the first ten cantos, Dante shows the different levels of hell and the expression of people’s flaws and the lack of hope that engulfs each level as he purges and learns from each level (Forman 36). In fact, he himself also most falls into the temptations and the shortcomings of humans. It is only through intervention from Beatrice who is in heaven that he gets hope and avoid the temptation partly as human weakness. The Dante’s weakness’ of fear, wrath, and unworthiness becomes the main point of confession as he is taken through hell to see, smell, and hear it as seeks to reach the top of the hill signifying out of hell. Accordingly, he confesses human vices and corruption forms the biggest block to leaving an honest life.

Another critical issue that emerges in the text is that of non-Christians: philosophers, ancient Greek and Roman heroes and so forth are not categorized as sinners, hence, are not in the circle of condemnation. Surprising the spirits in the Limbo accept Dante in their midst which pleases him (Bruce 20). A critical review on this point of view is that Dante does not know how to categories philosophers and other independent mind who are not perceived as righteous in accordance with the Christian doctrines while at the same time they are not considered as evil. It is, therefore, evident that Dante through his journey to hell confesses that there an unresolved issue regarding the path taken by some people and how they would be judged. He uses the Limbo spirits that stay out of hell and heaven showing that despite their acts that were not sinful in nature, they are not accepted in heaven because they failed to accept the doctrines of Christianity. Even some of the Arabs whom to a large extent can be assumed to have practiced other religions apart from Christianity are locked out of heaven. That argument denotes that only Christians would be allowed to heaven. Although it is satirical in nature, the text shows Dante’s confession as largely based on the influences of the community.

Conclusively, Dante’s journey to hell forms a confession in different ways as illustrated in the cantons. From onset when he is in the middle of crisis of his life as tries to understand the nature of life and how to live a good life, he is taken through into a symbolic journey through hell. The confession begins from the entrance of the “dark forest” and ends at the top of the lit hill. The confession is done through recounting on different levels of hell and through reflection of Dante’s life as he seeks to understand the course of afterlife.

Works Cited

Bruce, David. Dante’s Inferno: A Discussion Guide. Athens, Ohio: The Author, 2009. Print.

Crisafulli, Chuck, and Kyra Thompson. Go To Hell. New York: Gallery Books, 2014. Print.

Dante, Alighieri, and Henry W. Longfellow. The Divine Comedy: Vol. 2. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Print.

Forman, Carol. Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the Inferno. Woodbury, N.Y: Barrons Educational Series, 1984. Print.

Holloway, Julia B. The Pilgrim and the Book: A Study of Dante, Langland, and Chaucer. New York: P. Lang, 1992. Print.

Thompson, David. “Dante’s Ulysses and the Allegorical Journey.” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society (1967): 33-58.

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