AP English 12
19 October 2010
God, King of Hell
In the medieval age, Catholicism was a dominant, unifying force. All people of the Catholic faith are members of the Roman Catholic Church, with the mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. A brilliant poet, Dante Alighieri, lived during the medieval age and used his works to accomplish many things, including spreading Catholic beliefs and principles. This statement holds true in his piece, The Inferno. In it, a pilgrim named Dante discovers himself to be lost in an area of worldliness and separated from God. In order to reach God, he must first descend through Hell and overcome many obstacles to be able ...view middle of the document...
In this scene, Dante’s weakness appears as he faints once again, this time not from fear, but pity. Throughout his journey, these are the two central emotions Dante must learn to overcome. His development is apparent later in his journey in that no matter how horrifying the situation, he never faints again. Although Dante still very acutely feels fear, he learns to manage his fear and no longer be overpowered by it. In addition, in order to be able to reach the divine light and presence of God, he must learn to harden his heart to sin and feel no sympathy for sinners. Although he feels much sorrow in viewing the suffering in the beginning, later, his mindset seems to change. The turning point appears in the passage when Dante states to Virgil, “Master, it would suit my whim / to see the wretch scrubbed down into the swill / before we leave this stinking sink and him” (VIII. 49-51). Here, not only does Dante feel no sympathy for the damned, but he desires to see further punishment bestowed as well. From this point on, Dante has rejected the sinners just as they all rejected God.
With fear and pity aside, Dante is able to face Satan with a level head and be assured in his belief that God will provide a way for him. Earlier in Dante’s journey when he is filled with doubt, Virgil says to him, “Take heart, nothing can take our passage from us / when such a power has given warrant for it” (VIII. 101-102). Countless times this statement to Dante is reaffirmed, and the trial with Satan proves to be no exception. Ultimately, Dante and Virgil climb atop Satan’s back and use him as a stairwell to escape from Hell. Dante uses the source of all evil to complete his purpose and be united with God once more. It is a last symbolic gesture of everything Dante has learned; he battles his fear and steps over all evil in order to reach God.
The way Dante depicts and uses Satan also stands to glorify God and all of his power. The author Dante desires for the reader to be aware that Satan is nothing in comparison to God and that God’s greatest enemy is still powerless and completely controlled by him. There are numerous details in this final canto that convey this message.
Throughout Dante’s entire descent, he sees all of the damned being tortured and suffering for their sin and many of the scenes are filled with agony and despair. Although Satan is the ruler and king of Hell, Dante makes it seem as if he too is being disciplined. Satan’s punishment is depicted in the introduction to canto XXXIV, “He is fixed into the ice at the center...