While going through the circles of Hell, Dante observes many sinners being punished for their wrong-doings. The horrors of their damnation induce a great many emotions in the main character, such as fear, perplexity, and sympathy. Having shown pity, Dante is reproved by Virgil, “Who is a greater reprobate than he, who feels compassion at the doom divine?” (Alighieri, 1886). In such a way, Dante is shown to be in need of his guide’s lessons to return to the path of righteousness. He is considered sinful for misaligning with God’s justice by showing compassion towards the damned.
Therefore, traversing the circles of Hell, Dante has to find God and abolish his sinful self. For that purpose, he learns to be courageous, reconcile his pity for the damned, and understand the weight of sin. During some of the encounters with the damned, the poet is seen to make progress towards purifying his soul, as he comprehends the necessity of cruel yet just punishments. “With weeping and with wailing, Thou spirit maledict, do thou remain; for thee, I know, though thou art all defiled.”, concludes Dante, agreeing with the sinner’s sentence (Alighieri, 1886). The farther he travels, the more courageous towards the Hell’s perils he becomes, and the less pity for the sinful he feels.
Similarity and Difference
Dante is both similar and different from the souls he encounters. Like them, he is sinful; he wandered too far from God. One of Dante’s sins that are displayed to the reader is pride. As he meets renowned poets, Dante places himself among them, praising his skill and wit. However, unlike others suffering in Hell, Dante realizes his sinfulness. He notes that “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.” (Alighieri, 1886). Having acknowledged his mistake, he undertakes a strenuous journey and enters the gates of Hell.
Alighieri, Dante. (1886). The Divine Comedy. (H. W. Longfellow, Trans.). G. Routledge.