"God's Divine Justice in Dante's 'Inferno'"

Essay by moon_vixen33University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2004

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"Midway through the journey of our life, I found/myself in a dark wood, for I had strayed/from the straight pathway to this tangled ground." These famous lines from Dante's Inferno signify the themes of religion and personal salvation in the poem. Often when one embarks on a journey of self-discovery, they travel to places which astound one by their strangeness. Expecting to see what is straightforward and acceptable, one is suddenly presented with exceptions. Just as such self-examiners might encounter their inner demons, so does Dante, both as a character and a writer, as he sets out to walk through his Inferno. The image of being lost in "dark woods" sets up a clear dichotomy between the supposed unenlightened ignorance that one endures due to a lack of faith in God and the clear radiance provided by God's love. Dante uses contrasting symbols to indicate the character's challenge. The "dark woods" embodies Dante's fear, yet the "right road" symbolizes his confidence in God, ultimately revealing that Dante's journey is to find the presence of God in a sinful world.

However, the journey upon which Dante is embarking is not solely his, but rather that of every human being. Consistent with the views of his time, Dante believes that this journey is one that every individual must undertake, so as to understand their sins and find peace with God. This is an element with which modern readers can identify, as present society is conscious of an individual's right to find peace within themselves and the universe. While there are many different religions and divine beings which are worshipped today, the medieval view of personal salvation and spiritual peace is still applicable to any of these variations. Dante's journey throughout the Inferno also gives readers a glimpse into his own perception of...