Term Paper: Dante Aligheri Dante's Purgatorio

Pages: 8 (2339 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] In this work he depicts her as the representation of divine love. She dies young, but is immediately transported to heaven without having to go through Purgatory first. In Purgatorio, as in life, she acts as Dante's guide towards greater spirituality and eventual salvation. This can be interpreted as the need for spiritual guidance in a world filled with sin. In the earthly realm it is important to seek and give support in order to attain spiritual growth.

When Beatrice calls Dante's name, he finds the experience humbling and daunting at the same time (Musa, 1974). Here, although he has made the journey through Purgatory, he places himself on the level of his readers rather than of Beatrice, who is unutterably holy. The idea emphasized here is the fact that a human being can only attain a fallible degree of holiness on earth. This reinforces the depiction of purgatory as a realm that is parallel with earth. Beatrice does not belong here, but she acts as a guide for Dante, who suffers, and who feels lost.

This feeling is also present in Dante's earthly life, as seen before. He feels daunted by his own and others' capacity for sin and the diminishing manifestations of good on the earth. Thus he uses the holy image of Beatrice and purgatory in an encouraging as well as a cautionary sense. He finds that Beatrice calling his name is not at all reassuring, as he is unsure of his own ability to deserve the grace awaiting him. The reader is meant to be humbled by this. The overpowering goodness of heaven is so great that a person could only respond by being humbled and grateful.

A further humbling experience for Dante is his meeting with other poets. He meets these in the fire around the mountain. The fault of these poets is the love of worldly things, and they do penance for this in Purgatory. Yet they refer to each other with deep respect and a love for each other's work. This is paralleled in Dante's love for the work of his favorite poets in the earthly realm. Lessons that readers are to derive from this is the enjoyment and love for the higher things in life. Poetry is meant to bring a person closer to the ultimate Creator of everything. If this is accomplished, spirituality is increased.

As mentioned before, Purgatory is the only section of The Divine Comedy that occurs on the earth. This is also the realm which is closest in nature to the events on earth. Thus it has a special significance for both reader and author. The poet intends this section to serve as a concrete warning, but also as a symbol of the evolution of life on earth. The human journey begins arduously, but becomes easier as the soul grows closer to God. If the soul strays, it is the work of Purgatory to return such a soul to its rightful place in God.

The earth thus has many pitfalls. For those who are unrepentant the only outcome is Hell. For those who still acknowledge God, but who cannot escape the web of their own sinfulness, like Dante, Purgatory offers hope of salvation. Purgatory then serves as a device to restore the connection between the human being and God, which has been stretched and broken by life and its temptations on earth (Priest, 1982).

For the contemporary reader, Purgatorio then serves as a symbol of salvation, and therefore of Christ. Christ acts as a mediator between the earthly and the heavenly. By becoming like people on earth, while at the same time being without sin, Christ is able to help human beings attain salvation. This is also the task of Beatrice, who is perfect, with regard to Dante. Purgatorio serves as the link between life on earth and Paradise. It is the intermediary between the unutterable holiness of God and the sinfulness of humankind.

Purgatorio is also more directly linked to human life than the other two realms described in the Comedy. The most poignant element depicted in this realm is hope. Despite their suffering, the inhabitants of Purgatorio know for a fact that salvation and rest await them. In the same way Dante's readers are exhorted to live in hope rather than fear. Hope is integral in all human affairs. Thus Dante makes use of innate human hope in order to encourage his readers towards a more faithful life on earth. A more hopeful existence on earth would then also lead to a holier life, which in its turn would result in fewer years of Purgatory.

Purgatorio can then be defined as the representation of the second person in the Trinity, Christ. Through his holy love he gives humankind the hope of salvation.

Bibliography

Hollander, R. Allegory in Dante's "Commedia." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.

Musa, Mark. Advent at the Gates: Dante's Comedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974.

Priest, P. Dante's Incarnation… [END OF PREVIEW]

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