The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri, walks the reader through 3 different books called the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.
In the Inferno, Dante takes the reader through Hell. In the Purgatorio, Dante explains Mount Purgatory and how it’s sole purpose was the cleanse the souls and get them ready for Heaven. In the Paradiso, Dante finally experiences what Heaven is like. Through canto 1 of the Inferno and canto 9 of the Purgatorio, Dante explains to the reader how someone gains entrance to Hell and to Heaven.Throughout the Inferno, the reader sees Dante and Virgil journeying throughout the realms of Hell. The Inferno begins with Dante walking in a forest and the reader is told that Dante lost his path. While trying to regain his path, Dante finds his path blocked by 3 beasts: a lion, a leopard, and a wolf.
He continues along the path that he didn’t want to be on and he finds Virgil’s ghost. Virgil tells Dante that they have to go through Hell in order to get to Heaven. Hell has 9 circles, with each one getting worse than the other. Dante started at the first ring of Hell, limbo, where he meets the Pagan poets, whose sins were not knowing God. The 9th circle of Hell is where Lucifer is located along with 3 of the worst betrayals that has ever lived: Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.
Dante and Virgil make it through Hell and come out at the base of Mount Purgatory. Dante has a dream one night about an eagle swooping in on him and capturing him. When he awakes, he finds himself at the entrance to Purgatory.
Virgil informs him that Lucia, the angel of grace, picked him up during the night and carried him to Purgatory’s gate. When Dante tries to enter, the angel guarding the gate carved 7 Ps into Dante’s Head symbolic for the 7 deadly sins. Mount Purgatory has 7 realms, each realm for one of the 7 deadly sins. In canto 1 of the Inferno, Dante meets virgil’s ghost and finds himself being pushed along a path that he did not want to be on. Dante must pass through Hell in order to gain entrance into Heaven.
Virgil however lets Dante know that he will not be the one to guide him to Heaven. Virgil says,” to whom,then, if thom wishest to ascend, a soul shall be for that than I more worthy”(Dante, Inferno I). Virgil explains that he is not allowed into Heaven because he is stuck in Limbo for disobeying God.
However, he does state that if Dante wants to go to Heaven, someone else will come and guide him. Canto 1, presents the reader with 3 beasts who keep Dante on the path that leads him to Hell. The Leopard, represents Lust. The Lion represents Pride, and the Wolf represents greed. Dante, being afraid of them, stays on the path where he meets Virgil. Virgil later tells him that the beasts will continue doing that,” until the Greyhound comes, who shall make her perish in her pain”(Dante, Inferno I).
Virgil, I think is alluding to the fact that sin will triumph over Dante until God takes control think Dante is telling the reader that if they observe those 3 major sins, they will gain entrance into Hell, much like he did. If it wasn’t for those 3 beasts, he would have made it off of the path. In Purgatorio, Dante encounters a gatekeeper who guards the entrance to Heaven. The throne that this angel is sitting on sits on top of 3 stones, each one a different color. Dante tells the reader that the first stone,” was marble white, so polished and so smooth, I mirrored myself Therein as I appear”(Dante,Purgatorio IX). The second stone was completely different than the first. We are told that the second stone,” was of a calcined and uneven stone, Cracked all asunder lengthwise and across”(Dante, Purgatorio IX). The third and final stone was, “.
.. flaming red as blood that from a vein is spitting forth”(Dante, Purgatorio IX). The three steps literally represent the 3 steps to obtain entrance to Heaven.
The first step, marble, represents seeing himself as who he truly is, which is a sinner. The second step represents confession of sins and the sorrow that accompanies it. The third step,red, represents the asking for forgiveness from God. The angel guarding the gate tells Dante,”‘Ask humbly that he the fastening May undo'”(Dante, Purgatorio IX). To obtain access to Heaven, you must first ask for forgiveness. I think Dante is trying to teach us about how to be a good follower of Christ.
He lays out the foundation of 3 , seemingly innocent sins, that will drive you to Hell if you let them. He also lays out how to gain access to Heaven. He asks for forgiveness and is given access to Heaven. Dante tries to tell the reader the difference between right and wrong and how to correct your wrongdoings.