Allegory and Symbol in Dante's "Inferno" Analytical Essay by nfcolbert

Allegory and Symbol in Dante's "Inferno"
An analysis of the various symbols and the use of allegory in Dante's "Inferno".
# 152398 | 962 words | 1 source | MLA | 2009 | US
Published on Feb 06, 2013 in Literature (General)

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The paper relates that as an allegory, probably no work in the canon of great literature surpasses Dante's "Inferno" in its scope and mastery. The paper analyzes how the reader, through the pilgrim's eyes, encounters many symbolic creatures, objects, and people, which together form the masterful allegory that is Dante's "Inferno". The paper goes on to show how the powerful allegory and surprising symbolism convey the horrors that await one should he dare stray from the righteous path to God.

From the Paper:

"From the outset of the work, Dante elucidates that this is not only the narrator's journey, but is representative of a journey for all of human kind. He writes "In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost" (Divine Comedy 11). The emphasis here is on "our" - instead of saying "in the middle of my life" he makes the point of including all of humankind in the journey - for we are all faced with losing our way at some point in our lives. He reinforces the idea of the allegory here by relating the confusion with which he found himself in the dark woods: "I cannot rightly tell how I entered it, so full of sleep was I about the moment that I left the true way" (Divine Comedy 11). Like anyone who strays from the right path, Dante the pilgrim knows his mind was in a fog, clouded by sin, when he strayed from the straight road. The dark woods, located in a valley, end at the foot of a hill. Of the valley, Dante says "it had pierced my heart with fear" (Divine Comedy 11), calling to mind Psalm 23 of the Old Testament, which describes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The valley of the Inferno is symbolic of Dante's fear of dying in sin."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Dante . The Divine Comedy. Trans. Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed. New York: Vintage Books, 1950. Print.

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