DanteFinal - 1 Divine Enlightenment: The Divine Comedy...

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Divine Enlightenment: The Divine Comedy Rebecca Ney IECS 140 Final Paper, Question 5 May 5 th , 2009 In the Divine Comedy Dante travels through the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise in his journey to penetrate the eternal, divine light, as symbolic of the truth of God, to understand the underlying order of the universe. Paradise is the mirror image of Hell as both are eternal states, whereas Purgatory is a temporary condition, a period of transition. Yet in all three realms, Dante experiences a full renewal of self that unites the final three canticles of these books in a thematic parallelism. Furthermore, the stars at the end of each canticle rhyme the three poems together in eternal harmony. At the end of Paradiso, Dante has purged himself of pride, understands divine justice, has perfected his vision, and is able to see God. By the end of his travels Dante undergoes a transformative rebirth in the final canticles to become fully enlightened. From his journey through sin in the Inferno , penitence in Purgatorio , and virtue in Paradiso , Dante learns that infinite wisdom of divine justice based on the bonds of natural love determines all. In canto XXXIV of Dante’s Inferno , Satan represents the inverse Trinity as he metaphorically embodies ignorance, hatred, and impotence as opposed to the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. His three heads are the physical incarnation of the inverse Trinity as there are three heads in one colored red, black, and white. In the Christian doctrine, evil does not exist, and Dante preserves this perfection of God as Satan represents lack of existence. Satan exemplifies decreaction as evil can only mimic and distort, not create. Furthermore, as hell’s central prisoner, Satan is in a state of 1
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paralysis: he neither speaks nor moves. His wings are machines that propel the winds used to keep its prisoners frozen in the lake of Cocytus. In the beginning of canto XXXIV, Dante embodies this lack of being as he says “I did not die and I did not remain alive…what I became, deprived of both” ( Inf. 34.25-27). The Inferno is a static and hopeless place because there is no time and it is always dark; hell is a place of decreation. Throughout the Inferno, Virgil has informed Dante the pilgrim about the ordering of hell based on the degree of sins. The sinners in the ninth circle of Judecca are betrayers of a benefactor. Fraud acts contrary to God’s gift to mankind: love. Therefore, deeds are punished based on the degree to which they oppose love. Fraud against a benefactor is the worst sin of all because it violates voluntary love, the type of love that resembles God’s love for humanity, and this is why Dante the poet has made this the final circle of hell. Judas, Brutus, and Cassius are the three sinners located in this final bolgia. Judas, in
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This note was uploaded on 10/16/2011 for the course ITAL 333 taught by Professor Brownlee during the Spring '10 term at UPenn.

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DanteFinal - 1 Divine Enlightenment: The Divine Comedy...

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