Dante Inferno Canto 4

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In this canto, Dante awakens to find that he is on the edge of Hell. Dante and Virgil descend into the bottomless pit. They enter the first circle of Hell, Limbo, where the souls that are sighing live. The souls include those all Unbaptized infants and those men and women who lived before the age of Christendom. I am going to talk more about those souls later.

In the previous canto, Dante fainted at moments of great intensity of feeling when he is shocked by the strange sights he sees in Hell. Paralleled to his violent fainting, is he awakened by a great clasp of thunder. This supernatural ‘weather’ mirrors Dante’s internal condition. The faint, however, acts as to move from one location, the ferry crossing over Acheron, to Limbo. Furthermore, it seems that Dante faints only when he is not strong enough to confront sin in that he no longer faints as he continues to face greater horrors and suffering, indicating his increasing strength. We see that the period of unconsciousness has done Dante good as he “stood up and turned [his] rested eyes… to see what kind of place it was where [he] awoke” (4-6). Eyes are the organ of sense related to light. The eyes have the ability to absorb light and enable us to see. Therefore, they may signify reason and knowledge, which is intended to be strengthened through the Dante’s journey. Dante seems to be ready to face the next obstacle; however, when he looks down into the pit, he becomes reluctant, indicating that he is still far from being able to face Hell by himself. As they took the first downward movement within Inferno, Dante sees Virgil’s pallor of pity which he mistakes for fear as he himself had been at the end of previous canto. Virgil then answers him, “the anguish of the souls who dwell down here has painted in my face the pity you have taken to be fear” (19-21).

Virgil describes the world of Limbo as the “blind world” without other punishment than its darkness and “thundering with the roar of endless woe.”...
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