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Society And The Divine Comedy English Literature Essay

I chose to write about The Divine Comedy partially because it was by far the most interesting and held my attention, but also because it was my favorite as well. This specific piece of literature portrays some aspect of the author, Dante Alighieri and the society in which this piece was written in. While I was reading about Alighieri I came across some very interesting facts I never knew about, especially about the three canticles-the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. As I continue through this essay, I will go over the different aspects I found between the author and the society and see how they compare to this piece of literature he wrote, during his time period.

While reading about Alighieri’s life, I read that he was a member of the Florentine Guelphs, and part of the White party. A year after Dante was on a diplomatic mission he was condemned to exile and never returned to Florence. With Dante being in exile, this became the central background of The Divine Comedy. While there, he recounts the journey of a lost traveler, back to his homeland, Heaven. Northern Italy being torn apart during his lifetime is another central background to this piece of literature. As stated in the history of Dante, “Thus for Dante the Roman Empire is divinely ordained: it first provided the earthly unity and order appropriate to the birth of Christ, and only when it is restored will His second coming be possible.” I believe much of what Dante Alighieri experienced before and during his time in exile had the most effect on this piece. When you’re in exile, you are sent away, and could possibly be alone, so I’m sure he had much to think and ponder about during that time.

As for the first the first central background to the story, I believe is clearly about Dante himself. He’s in exile and away from his own homeland, which would be Heaven to him, and he’s writing about the journeys he has to go through to get back to his paradise. That’s where the three canticles come in, and I think he was describing his life through each canticle, as he thought he was experiencing it. Secondly, seeing Northern Italy being torn apart, I also think that greatly affected the way he felt and acted toward many things going on around him. When a person sees they’re country tearing apart, it can cause a person to think and feel all types of different emotions.

Dante experiences the Inferno when the poem begins. This is when I believe he realizes he is exile, in other words it would be Hell, especially for people such as myself in today’s world. During his journey through the Inferno he experienced things I couldn’t ever imagine going through. “These wretches, who had never truly lived, went naked, and were stung and stung again by hornets and the wasps that circled them and made their blood, mixed with their tears, dripped to their feet, and disgusting maggots collected in the pus.” Those are the types of things Dante experienced through Hell, and I think he could compare that to the society he was living in before and during his time in exile. How his society was being ran could have been a version of Hell itself, and how the people living in it, would end up after they all die.

“And I shall sing about that second realm where man’s soul goes to purify itself and become worthy to ascend to Heaven.” If that doesn’t give you hope, then I don’t know what will. That quote from the Purgatorio canto I, just gave me the feeling that everything was going to be okay with Dante, and that he was eventually going to arrive in Heaven, where he belonged. At this point in the poem, I believe Dante had gone through the worst he was ever going to go through, and now has a time to make everything right, so he definitely makes it back to his paradise. That is what Dante does, and finally makes to Heaven and describes all of the glorious surroundings around him.

From the Paradiso canticle, one thing that brought my attention, was how there was so little about the amazing things in Heaven compared to the Inferno. “And one is so transformed within that Light that it would be impossible to think of ever turning one’s eyes from that sight, because the good which is the goal of will is all collected there, and outside it all is defective that is perfect there.” I love that part from the Paradiso it makes me so thrilled to know Dante reached his paradise, and that I’ll be able to experience it one day. Maybe, not much was said about Heaven; because it is so indescribable, one cannot even grasp every aspect of it. I’m hoping with Dante reaching Heaven he was finally in his homeland, where he belonged.

Now this was clearly my entire interpretation of how this piece of literature portrays the author himself, and the society he was living in during the time of 1265-1321. I could be right or wrong, but this is how I saw this poem, and also how I thought it fit into Dante Alighieri’s life. I could be totally off by how the author wanted people to view this poem, but in a sense, you can also see it the way I presented it to you as well. Dante was put into exile, Hell, and was trying to get back to his homeland, Heaven. Wouldn’t any normal person try to get back to their paradise after being sent away, possibly leaving in Hell, for however long? I know I would definitely try my hardest to get back to where I belonged and longed to live. So I could really see Dante having to go through all three canticles to finally reach where he wanted to be in his life, and he just described in a poem for others to read. This poem gave me so much to think about, and I have pondered on it for awhile now. It puts your life in perspective for you and truly shows you where you are going to end up in the end, and what you should be doing to prevent from going down the wrong path, such as Dante did. Overall, it was a very interesting read, and I could compare it to Dante Alighieri’s life, and the society he lived in during the time this piece of literature was written.

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