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Dante’s Presentation of Sins in “Inferno” and “Purgatorio” Essay

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Updated: Nov 21st, 2021

The works Purgatorio and Inferno are considered to be the real masterpieces by Dante Alighieri. The principle aspects described in the works are devoted to religious and holy reflection of human existence. The themes of sin and sinners representation highlighted in the works are shown from various sides of major virtues such as love, truth, belief, etc.

The work Inferno is based on the sin presentation as the punishment for people’s ignorance; the author investigates the nature of the sins introducing the necessary judgments for them. Dante illustrated the impulses motivating sinners being in the Hell and explaining that such characteristics are usually presented inside the person. So, the book is considered to be the “journey to self-realization” as the sinners managed to find potential other selves.

So may God grant you, Reader, benefit
From reading of my poem, just ask yourself
How I could keep my eyes dry when, close by,
I saw the image of human form… (Dante, XX, 19)

The author managed to establish contact with the reader through deepening into the sense of sins for human morality; he showed the punishment as the condemned souls of the sinners rather than physical body distortion. The author used the principles of baptismal practices in the punishment description; this fact is connected with religious virtues and symbols Dante strived to illustrate; the depiction of the Satan appeared to be centralized in sinners’ soul destructions and sufferings being the form of punishment in the Hell.

The Purgatory is described as the place for sins expiation; nevertheless Dante managed to step aside from theologians’ teachings as to this aspect and depicted sins being venial. He focused on the description of the capital sins which have been punished in the Hell in the same way. The basic concept characterizing sinners at this stage of their journey is Christianity as all souls had deep beliefs in God and in the power of religion. Dante gave some hopes to the sinners having an opportunity to be completely reformed and free their souls through constant remorse. One should note that sinners in Purgatory got less gravy sins through their penance and repentance. The Purgatory has the view of limited punishment duration suffered in the Hell.

Seven P’s, the seven scars of sin,
His sword point cut into my brow. He said:
“Scrub off these wounds when you have passed within” (Dante, 9. 112-14)

Dante provides hopes for the sinners; an angel wipes away the sins or wounds in the Purgatory. The souls sinned in Purgatory came through the way of evolution and gradation reaching opportunities to join holiest souls in the Paradise. (Ciardi & Dante, 1951)

Comparative analysis of Inferno and Purgatorio showed the difference in sin and sinners’ presentation; Dante managed to disclose completely opposite souls’ sins treatment in accordance with the degree of their danger, and different sins perception experienced in the Hell and Purgatory. Inferno discloses souls in constant capital sufferings for the sins of love ignorance and betray. Comparing this stage with Purgatorio, it should be noted that sinners coming through the Hell and getting into Purgatory feel deep remorse; so, their belief in Christianity concepts and positions give an opportunity to get rid of their sorrow. (Barolini, 2006)

Dante managed to reflect a complicated way of human souls through all circles of the Hell and Paradise clarifying the most important virtues existing in our life and the necessity of their existence in everyone’s fate.

References

Ciardi, J. and Dante, A. The Purgatorio. A Mentor Classic. New American Library, 1951.

Alighieri, Dante & Musa, Mark. Dante’s Inferno: The Indiana Critical Edition. Indiana University Press. 1995.

Barolini, T. Dante and the Origin of Italian Literary Culture. Fordham University Press. 2006.

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