Dante's Inferno

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Throughout the fast-paced lives of people, we are constantly making choices that shape who we are, as well as the world around us; however, one often debates the manner in which one should come to correct moral decisions, and achieve a virtuous existence. Dante has an uncanny ability to represent with such precision, the trials of the everyman's soul to achieve morality and find unity with God, while setting forth the beauty, humor, and horror of human life. Dante immediately links his own personal experience to that of all of humanity, as he proclaims, "Midway along the journey of our life / I woke to find myself in a dark wood, / for I had wandered off from the straight path" (I.1-3). The dark wood is the sinful life on earth, and the straight path is that of the virtuous life that leads to God. Dante's everyman, pilgrim character represents all of humanity, and endures much adversity and temptation through squalid conditions in a nightmarish vision of hell, in his search to find the soul's true path in life. While he stands in peril, Dante wishes that each individual would put themselves in the same position as the aforementioned, as all of mankind knows some form of sin, and also wanders lost in a dark wood. Before achieving moral redemption, an individual must take a hard look at evil both in the world and in himself. Only by confronting inner evil can people achieve self-knowledge, which is the first step toward redemption. Dante feels hell is a necessary, painful first step in any man's spiritual journey, and the path to the blessed after-life awaits anyone who seeks to find it, and through a screen of perseverance, one will find the face of God. Nonetheless, Dante aspires to heaven in an optimistic process, to find salvation in God, despite the merciless torture chamber he has to travel through. As Dante attempts to find God in his life, those sentenced to punishment in hell hinder him from the true path, as the city of hell in Inferno represents the...
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