Canto XIII: A Loss of Identity, A Loss of Faith
In Canto XIII, Dante enters the second subcircle of the seventh ring of Hell, reserved for those who commit violence against themselves. Here, the contrapasso of suicide is becoming a part of the thorned and treacherous woods. Although this seems odd as the idea of a contrapasso is, “the punishment fits the crime,” and other punishments seem much harsher, the real workings of the contrapasso are shown once Dante speaks to the souls. Here it is revealed to Dante that these souls are constantly reminded that they have willingly given up what is most important to them, their identity. In turn, they must suffer for abandoning the bond that existed between them and God. The contrapasso in the woods shows punishment as the loss of identity tied similarly with the loss of self from suicide. Dante enters the woods at the subcircle of the seventh ring of Hell and meets several souls and converses with them. While these people explain their lives back on Earth to Dante, they never actually reveal their names, as they seem to be either unable or unwilling to give this information. Also, their only means of communication is through the souls hurting themselves. The souls are unable to clearly show their identity, which seems to be lost. This reflects directly with the idea that suicide results in a loss of identity as people take their lives. Giving up their body and in essence their identity on Earth, these souls are now no longer able to reclaim their bodies over the Day of Judgment. This is depicted by a soul stating, “Like others, we will come for our remains, but not so that any may put them on again, for it is not just to have what one has take from oneself,” (XIII, 103-105). Because these people have killed themselves, they can no longer claim their opportunity of immortality given to them by God as they have wronged by not wanting their bodies and in turn their identities. Ironically, in Hell, they get...
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