What Dreams May Come And Dante's Inferno

1595 words - 7 pages

Death and what comes after has always been a subject of great interest and uncertainty. Many have tried to depict their own vision of the afterlife, be it heaven or hell, paradise or inferno. Here, I will discuss the similarities and differences in the hell represented in the movie What Dreams May Come and the Inferno of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.What Dreams May Come is a movie about two soul mates, Chris (Robin Williams) and Annie (Anabella Sciorra). After Chris' death in a car accident coupled with the death of her two children four years earlier, Annie commits suicide. While Chris has gone to heaven and discovered that his heaven is living in a world of Annie's paintings, Annie has ...view middle of the document...

For Williams' character, Chris, his paradise was living in one of his wife Annie's paintings. But the same theory holds true for Annie in hell. Annie is not in her place in hell because she has been deemed by Minos to be a suicide and assigned her level; she exists there because she has made a hell of her own. Her hell is living in a world without her husband and children, which she tried to escape through committing suicide but lives on in due to her own self-loathing and guilt.One central difference between these two works is the nature of Chris and Dante's travel into the inferno. While Chris has already died and gone to heaven, Dante is still living. Chris leaves heaven and descends into hell for his own purpose of bringing his soul mate, Annie, back. Chris had a choice as to if he wanted to go down to hell but Dante did not. His trip was divinely ordained and orchestrated. His reason in going is because he has been wandering from the "True Way" and has been sent to be taught an important and valuable lesson.In both works, there is the common relationship of student to teacher. In What Dreams May Come, Chris locates a "tracker" to assist him in his journey to hell to find Annie. This tracker is Albert, a man who Chris studied under as a medical student and has a great deal of love and respect for. However, Chris does not know that this tracker is his old mentor. In the film, Albert states "thought is real and physical is the illusion." He is not in the bodily form that Chris recognized him as on Earth. He has assumed the form of an elderly white man and does not identify himself to Chris until a crucial point in the film. In life, he was Chris' mentor but in the afterlife, he is his friend and escort. A similar relationship of student to mentor exists in the Inferno between Dante and Virgil. Virgil, as a poet, has inspired Dante and his works greatly. Upon meeting him, Dante says "For you are my true master and first author, / the sole maker from whom I drew the breath / of that sweet style whose measures have brought me honor" (Inferno, Canto 1, Lines 82-84). Also, no longer is Virgil a detached influence to Dante, separated by hundreds of years, he is now a true friend to him. This is demonstrated in Canto 23 as Virgil and Dante are attempting to escape the Fiends. Virgil lifts Dante and " - as down that hill / my Guide and Master bore me on his breast, / as if I were not a companion, but a son." (Canto 23, Lines 45-47). In their travels through hell a close relationship has grown between master and student.Aside from similarities and differences in the nature of hell and the relationships of the characters, there are also similarities and differences in the specific levels of hell dictated by Dante. While the film does not go through all the levels Dante created, probably for the sake of time, there are images of hell in the movie that directly mirror Dante's. Chris and the tracker travel to hell on a small boat under a gray sky that...

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