• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Pity for the Damned. In the epic poem The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Dante experiences pity for the damned souls in hell, which defies the Christian Churchs concept of frowning upon those in purgatory. Canto XIII of The Inferno exemplifies Dante

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Pity for the Damned: Dante's Quest for Personal Understanding In the epic poem The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Dante experiences pity for the damned souls in hell, which defies the Christian Church's concept of frowning upon those in purgatory. Canto XIII of The Inferno exemplifies Dante's ideas about people who commit suicide, which runs entirely contrary to the Church, who believes that those who commit suicide have dishonored God's gift of human life. Dante's defiance reflects his ability to analyze his surroundings and utilize his free will to think when released from the Church's grasp. Interestingly, he is only able to feel complete mental freedom in Hell, the place the Church disdains. Therefore, this poem is Dante criticizing society for blindly following the Church and diminishing their ability to think for themselves, and the Church for creating this type of controlling environment. Canto XIII (The Forest of Suicides) is solely dedicated to suicides, unlike any other Canto, which illustrates the significance of this point in Dante's journey to the underworld. He passes through six levels of hell before reaching the circle of violence and he has not felt this much pity since the story of Francesca. Upon entering the forest Dante questions his surroundings, an expected response of him. ...read more.

Middle

A soul resumes to explain what happens to their bodies when they arrive in the seventh circle; they are treated like a rotten piece of meat that not even a dog would eat. Their bodies are flung without care into the forest, no specific place chosen, and it fastens down to sprout roots and grow into the thorny, horrifying mess they stepped in to. In a sense, the way the bodies are treated is another form of punishment. Since they went astray from God's plan, they are treated accordingly. Furthermore, once the thicket grows wild and big, The Harpies, terrifying creatures who live in the forest of suicides, feed on the branches housing the souls, meaning their punishment is endless pain so they never forget the feeling of suicide. Out of the blue two souls come running towards them, this encounter further reveals Dante's character. The souls are consciously running to their deaths with yearning and run into a thorn bush where a dog mangles the bodies and runs away with their limbs. Following straight after the event Dante and Virgil approach the bush the souls ran in to, as it was crying (247). Through this particular instance, Dante comments on the importance of nature in human life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dante's grief throughout Inferno raises the issue of God's Divine Justice and if his punishments are fair. By questioning God's power, Dante puts himself out on the line and forces the reader to question God as well, aiming to alleviate the pressures of the Church on the individual and allowing one to think for one's self. Although Dante concludes that the crime fits the punishment, he shows remorse for the souls. His remorse sprouts from his acute awareness of his surroundings and understanding of his standing on earth. Without reading Inferno through Dante's eyes, the reader could not have comprehended the importance of each circle of hell for him. Not only is Dante's journey a trip to the underworld; it is a journey to find himself. The opening lines of the epic poem illustrate his internal unrest by describing the "dark wood" where his path was lost (3). Entering each circle of hell means a learning experience for Dante and a chance to figure out who he is and where he wants to go in life. By Canto XIII his evolution is evident. Instead of collapsing from pity, he overcomes his emotions and allows himself to interact with the nameless soul. Dante has matured since entering Limbo, which benefits him in as he descends deeper into hell because he has the chance to analyze the soul's situation and connect further, rather than assuming the role of the fainthearted. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Medieval essays

  1. 'It is clear...that Chaucer used the couple relationship as a kind of open field ...

    he is trying so hard to achieve via his seminal vernacular work. The didactic verisimilitude of the theme is therefore irrevocably entwined with the structure. Both the Miller and the Wife are of the lower orders of medieval society and the Wife carries the additional contemporary 'burden' of her sex.

  2. Virtue and the 'endless figure' in the works of the Pearl-poet. The Pearl-poets works ...

    (Pearl, 1153-6) The idea of lovers being 'smitten' through looking at the loved one was current at the time, and here the metaphor is of secular love and passion overcoming the dreamer's reason as he gazes upon the maiden. Andrew and Waldron describe this 'terminology of earthly pleasures as typical

  1. Dantes Divine Comedy. Discuss what you consider to be the most important allegorical features ...

    This mode of being for Dante, in relation to the poetry, is important because only by juxtaposing the audience into the eyes of the pilgrim and into the eyes of the poet can the significance of the journey be realised.

  2. Chaucers presentation of Troilus and Criseydes love reflects the insurmountable influences of the conventional ...

    knight, devoted to his lady, subjugates himself to her to do as she demands, the established patriarchy of the medieval world ultimately renders this position untenable. The events of the Trojan War compounded with the female's status conspire to destroy the love affair and prevent the realisation of the ideal.8

  1. The main characters in Le Roman de la Rose and Sir Gawain and the ...

    Maybe the most important characters in the Arthurian tradition are all the knights that surround him, the embodiments of one of the most important social code in courts-even before "courtly love"-chivalry: "the ethos of the knights" (Companion 97). The authors that in their romances dealt with the theme of chivalry

  2. Discuss Homer's portrayal of women in the Odyssey. How might the language and style ...

    However, Penelope is a heroic woman and warriors are unusually likened to lions more than any other animals. In addition, her suitors threaten her way of life with their plans to kill Telemachos. Thus, the image of a lion at bay is appropriate.

  1. Beowulf: The Trojan Horse of Christianity.

    For example, he gives formal boasts about defeating Grendel, and later Grendel's mother, thereby pledging him to carry out his remarks (See the note for line 482). In a similar fashion, Hrothgar is a typical Anglo-Saxon king, establishing himself as a proper ruler and successful warrior.

  2. Chaucer's Depiction of the Corrupt Church in the Canterbury Tales

    The Pardoner?s description says, ?he?d make more money in one day alone than the Parson would in two months come and gone,? (ll 703-704). This line also makes mention of the Parson, another religious character, though he was not criticized as much as other characters due to his description of being the only devout churchman.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work