, the lost poet, Dante, and his guide, Virgil, journey
deeper and deeper into the depths of Hell, and witness the pain that is brought upon all
sinners in the afterlife.
Although Dante is always protected by Virgil during the trek, the
relationship matures between them, especially in Canto 23, from one of a guide and
mentor, to something much more meaningful: a relationship similar to that of a parent
and child, and later on, a bond between equals, with Dante occasionally taking control.
The quest through Hell beings with Dante waking up, confused, alone, and scared
of the strange, “savage and dark” (23) wood that he is in.
Dante begins his journey
without any help, and surely would have failed if Beatrice, in heaven, hadn’t pitied him
and sent Virgil along to help Dante as an escort through Hell.
Instantly, upon Virgil’s
arrival, his necessity to Dante is affirmed, with Virgil explaining how the wolf of Hell
makes it so that they must go on a different path.
Virgil is wise in the ways of Hell, so
that with the inclusion of Virgil, Dante loses much of the confusion that he embodied in
the beginning, wandering around in the forest lost.
When they take their first steps of the
expedition, Dante says, “one will is in us both, thou leader, thou lord and master” (41) to
Virgil, illustrating that Dante is a sort of disciple of Virgil from their first moment of
Already, Dante is seen as maturing, signifying the deeper relationship Dante
and Virgil have from the very beginning, making Virgil into a mentor and teacher to
Dante, not only a simple guide.
As they journey through the different levels of Hell, Virgil symbolizes reason in
the utter chaos of the underworld, demonstrating patience with Dante, maturity in the
face of utter pandemonium, and wisdom about the workings of Hell.
beginning of the Cantos, Dante constantly questions Virgil, asking mostly of who is