The development of Dante begins in the first Canto when he is lost in some woods and Virgil appears to him. Dante character in the first Canto shows fear on two occasions. The first sign of fear he expresses is when he tries to travel down the path towards paradise and the she wolf shows herself. Dante demonstrates his fear again when Virgil appears, as Dante yells “have pity on me…..whatever you may be- a shade, a man.” Dante’s dialogue shows his fear as he asks for mercy, before knowing whether or not the being that appeared to him wanted to harm him. As Dante and Virgil began to approach the entrance of hell, Dante began shows to fear as he begins wondering whether or not he should make the journey. Dante begins thinking about how Aeneas and St. Paul made the journey and begins doubting believes that he too should be included in this group. Virgil reproves Dante for his fear and tells him to have courage as Beatrice, the Virgin Mary, and St. Lucia all care for him. Dante upon hearing this decides that he is ready to begin his journey and tells Virgil to lead on. In the first two Cantos, Dante develops his character into a coward as he fears the “she-wolf” and the journey he faced. Virgil scolds Dante for his fears, and reassures him that three ladies in heaven care for him. Virgil’s actions play a large part in the early development of Dante, as he helps Dante overcome his fear as well as reassure him that this journey is a direct cause of angels. Dante’s character is a coward in the first two cantos, but it is at the end of the second Canto that Dante overcomes these fears and develops some courage.
The development of Dante continues in the fifth Canto, when Dante talks to the shade of Francesca. Dante says “Alas how many gentle thoughts, how deep a longing had led them to the agonizing past!” In this quote Dante is talking about Francesca’s ordeal and how it had brought tears of pity to his eyes. Dante for the first time in his comedy displays compassion as he cries upon hearing Francesca’s tale. In the third circle of hell Dante encounters the shade of Ciacco who claims to be from Florentine and know Dante. Upon seeing his punishment Dante shows sympathy towards Ciacco. Dante’s character is developed even further in the fifth canto as Dante shows sympathy as well as compassion. Dante continues to show compassion and sympathy towards the shades that approach him throughout the comedy. In the fifteenth Canto Dante encounters the shade of Brunetto Latini, a political figure whom Dante admires. Dante weeps for the last time when he leaves Bruno in the fifteenth canto. In the twentieth Canto, Dante once again weeps for the shades as their punishment is to walk with their head on backwards for eternity. Virgil however reproaches Dante for weeping for these shades as he says that they are there because they tried to tell the future. It is at this point that Dante learns that his pity for these souls is wasted as only their punishment can redeem them. The twenty third Canto is the book in which Dante’s character begins to show anger towards the souls in hell. Dante speaks to the friars in this circle about their evils as they were responsible for the down fall of Florence and Dante’s exile. For the first time in his comedy Dante shows anger towards the souls in these circles. Dante builds his character throughout his comedy using character development. Dante’s character at the beginning of his comedy displays much fear and demonstrates much cowardice before embarking on his journey. Over time Dante builds his character up, until he shows pity towards the souls in hell. However Dante soon learns that his pity is wasted on these souls. In the later parts of the comedy Dante’s character begins to show anger towards the souls in hell. The character development used to develop Dante starts off with Dante showing fear, to Dante feeling pity for these souls, then to Dante taking anger out on souls in hell.
Virgil the famous Roman poet and author of The Aeneid is the guide for Dante on his journey through hell. Virgil in the divine comedy represents reason and wisdom which makes him the perfect guide. The character development used to develop Virgil is different than that of Dante as instead of developing Virgil over the period of the book, Dante develops him quickly and uses him instead as a way to help in the development of Dante’s character. Virgil acts as a guide for Dante as he leads Dante through hell and to the gates of paradise. In the beginning of the comedy Dante fears embarking on his journey, however Virgil reassures him that his journey is of divine cause. Throughout the first nineteen cantos Virgil continually reassures Dante that his journey is of divine nature and that he must remove all fear. In the twentieth Canto Dante is weeping for souls and Virgil tells him that his sympathy is wasted on these souls. Virgil says that his sympathy is wasted as the souls in hell are there for punishment. According to Virgil theses punishments are all part of a bigger plan that is dictated by God. In order to gain entrance to the levels of hell Virgil would often have to communicate with other shades. Whenever Virgil had trouble with shades he would ask that Dante remain behind him as he knows that Dante could be easily scared. In the deeper levels of hell Dante continued to show sympathy towards souls, but Virgil reminds him that the punishment of these souls is all a larger part of God’s plan. Virgil in Dante’s Inferno is responsible for the development of Dante’s character, as well as guide Dante through hell and to his ultimate destination of paradise. Virgil displays many different traits as he acts as the guide for Dante on his journey. Virgil on this journey not only led Dante, but he also protected Dante and acted as spiritual guidance for Dante.
The character development of Dante in the Divine Comedy is a long one as Dante’s character is developed over the entire comedy. Virgil’s development is minimal; however he plays a major role in the development of Dante. Dante goes through three stages of development in the comedy. At first Dante shows fear and demonstrate cowardice; however his guide Virgil reassures him of the divine qualities of his journey. Dante’s character evolved from having fear to showing sympathy to the souls in hell in the middle cantos. Virgil tells Dante how his sympathy is wasted on these souls, as only their punishments could redeem them. He tells Dante of how the punishments are all a larger part of God’s plan. In the final Cantos Dante’s character begins to develop anger towards the souls in hell. The character development of Dante takes place over the entire divine comedy, with influences such as Virgil aiding in the development of Dante’s character.