Allegories in the Inferno
The Inferno describes a journey that Dante, with his guide Virgil, goes through different levels of the Hell. There are nine circles in the Hell, and sinners in each level are condemned to different crimes. They receive punishments in coincidence with their sins. Dante’s depiction of the Hell, including how sinners are punished and the appearance of different levels, contains many allegories that illustrate Dante’s ideas about the meaning of life. I will give three specific examples to show what the allegories are and their intrinsic meanings.
At the beginning of The Inferno, Dante expresses the clear allegorical intention of his poem. “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood” (Alighieri, p.2). By writing “our life’s journey”, Dante links his own experience to that of all people. The “dark wood” represents sinful life in the world. This kind of allegory portrays one character to represent all the humanity. Dante is telling not only his story but also that of all the humanity. When he tries to find his way following the light, three beasts (the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf) block his way. The three beasts represent different kinds of sins. The Dante Encyclopedia parses the leopard as a symbol of fraudulence, the lion as a symbol of pride, and the she-wolf as a symbol of greed (Lansing, p.87). Dante is forced to go back to the forest when Virgil appears and wants to lead him to the Hell so that he can go to the paradise. In our lives, we meet problems, difficulties, and troubles. Those force us to be depressed even commit sins. At this point, we should go back to see if we have better ways to solve it instead of choosing a wrong way. Obviously, it is almost impossible for Dante to win the three beasts, so he makes a right choice to go back and follow Virgil to go through the Hell, which is planned by the God.
The description of the Ninth Circle of the...
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