Inferno Analysis Paper

Topics: Morality, Divine Comedy, Empathy Pages: 2 (641 words) Published: November 14, 2013

Inferno: The Dark Path to Enlightenment
Compassion; a quality often admired by society. To empathize and sympathize with those who are suffering, even if they have done wrong is widely considered humane and morale. However in Dante Alighieri's Inferno, compassion for those who have sinned is not only considered immoral, but as going directly against God’s law and judgment. During Dante’s journey through Hell, he is chastised several times for showing such empathy. As Dante descends deeper into the Inferno, he demonstrates less compassion and empathy for those who have sinned, this symbolizing Dante’s progression from mundane ignorance to spiritual enlightenment. When Dante is first introduced, it is clear that he is a symbol for humanity as a whole, and given that compassion towards the suffering of others is a decidedly human quality, it is not surprising that Dante feels and shares in the pain of the souls in Hell. After listening to the heart-wrenching tale of Francesa in Circle 2, Dante is so overcome with pity that he, “[Feels] my (Dante’s) senses reel and faint away with anguish” (Alighieri 62). The level of sympathy illustrated in this scene reveals that Dante still has a certain naivety when it comes to God’s strict moral laws, and is unable yet to let go of his worldly emotional impulses. Though at first Virgil, Dante’s guide, allows Dante to sympathize with the sinners, as the pair moves deeper into Hell Virgil begins to respond to such bouts of pity by reprimanding Dante, saying “ There is no place for pity here… who dares to sorrow at God’s judgment? ” (175). Thus it becomes clear that part of Virgil’s mission is to help Dante see that in order to reach and understand God’s moral code, Dante must first stop pitying the sinners in hell. Stop pitying them he does, as Dante travels deeper and deeper, he begins to not only recognize the gravity of the condemned souls sins, but to also accept and agree that their punishments are just and...

Cited: Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Trans. John Ciardi. New York: New American Library, 2001
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