Comparative Essay Macbeth and Inferno

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The Divine Comedy
of
Dante Alighieri
Inferno

The poem Inferno is about a man who has “lost the path that does not stray” (Inferno, Canto I, line 3) where “the path” represents the path to Heaven. Dante, having strayed from the path, is in danger of being sent to Hell. When Beatrice, whom Dante loved before her early death, finds out that Dante has strayed she becomes worried that he will not be able to join her in Heaven. Beatrice wants to help Dante find God again, but because she is an angel, she cannot walk through Hell or Purgatory and in her stead she asks the Roman poet Virgil to guide Dante on a cautionary trip. Much the way Dante travels through Hell in the Divine Comedy, Macbeth must endure the consequences of his actions. The intervention of Beatrice draws parallels to the actions of Lady Macbeth.

The influence of women in both poems is very important to the story and is very prevalent. While the role of the two women differ greatly in each poem, their centrality to the progression of the story remains the same. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth was only interested in the power to be gained by killing the king “I have given suck, and know.... As you have done to this.” (Macbeth, Act I, scene vii) But in the Divine Comedy, Beatrice intervenes in order to save Dante's soul from eternal punishment “From all that I have heard of him in Heaven/he is, I fear, already so astray/ that I have come to help him much too late.” (Inferno, Canto II, line 64). If Lady Macbeth had not intervened Macbeth most likely would not have killed Duncan. Macbeth shows this through the quote “I dare do all that may become a man/ Who dares do more, is none”, meaning that he has done everything that an honourable man would do but anyone who does more than that is not a true man. The opposite occurs in the Divine Comedy, where Beatrice’s intervention leads to Dante’s salvation. While both women intervened they had opposite effects on the characters they influenced. Beatrice...
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