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Dante_Paper - 1 Western Cultural Tradition Professor A...

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1 Western Cultural Tradition Professor A. Behnegar 10 April 2007 Dante’s Portrayal of Lust in Inferno Throughout his divine comedy, Dante investigates myriad sins and how they fit into each section of the afterlife. Volume one, Inferno , takes the reader through each circle of Hell, and each sin is devoted at least one canto to illuminate the sin and tell the stories of the sinners. In Canto five, Dante visits the second circle of Hell where the lustful reside, including Cleopatra and Dido, and speaks to the pair of lovers Francesca da Rimini and Paolo. He examines his encounter and the sin of lust through these characters, but also through them, complicates the qualification of lust as a true sin for his characters. Dante creates his setting for the Divine Comedy as the afterworld is thought of by believers of the Biblical God. There are three separate regions of afterlife based on the justice of the Biblical God. The first region is Hell, where sinners spend eternity paying for their sins. The second is the region of Purgatory, where late repentants also spend time paying for their sins, but a set time, not eternity, with the promise of reaching the third region eventually. The final region is Paradise, where the saints live in one of the nine circles of Heaven, and everyone is perfectly happy and walks with God. Using this thought process, Dante carefully examined the seven deadly sins, as well as other injustices in human life, and placed them where he sees appropriate, with corresponding punishments and rewards. The sin of lust is placed in the second circle of Hell. It is not a very severe sin, as Dante puts it in one of the regions farthest away from the center, where Satan lives. Lust is a sin because it serves as a weakness of the mind. Those who lust prove to be weak-willed, and it is
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2 difficult for them to stand up to their desires. Instead, they give in to impulses that do not help their moral characters. When people are lustful, they often sin willfully. Most lustful people recognize that their desires and the temptations around them are bad and wrong, and yet they give in to them anyway, assuming either that something that gives them pleasure cannot be truly harmful to them or truly bad, or that they will have the chance to make it up later, and again give in to momentary pleasure. Lust is often associated with love. It would appear that people who love each other would either never be lustful, or would be allowed to lust after each other as long as love was involved. However, if this were the case, it would be difficult to separate who is showing true love, and who is covering up their lust with love. First, it is clear that even when two people love each other, lustful desires will still be present in them. This is human nature, proven by how it is guarded against in the Bible, a book as old as the world itself, included in Dante from medieval times, and still seen in modern culture. Love is an emotion felt by humans towards one another,
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