Canto 1: Summary
Dante speaks of how he got lost in the middle of the night in a dark forest. All this takes place while he is asleep. He becomes so frightened but at last he sees some light at the top of the hill. On trying to climb the hill so as to get to the top which was brighter, his way is blocked by three animals. The animals are a leopard, a she-wolf and a lion. He then goes back to the forest where he meets with Virgil who becomes his literary hero. Virgin informs him that no one can pass through the three beasts, but Virgil would lead him to Salvation through hell. Dante gladly accepts the offer.
Canto I: Analysis:
The poem is full of metaphors and symbolism. Dante wrote the inferno after he had been exiled in 1301.this made him have accurate predictions of events that had already occurred. The dark forest has been used as a metaphor to represent everything that was wrong in 1300.He includes wrong things like political corruption, the bad behavior of the people seen as holy such as the pope, the political corruption during those times, the inner confusion in people and sin. The struggle to reach the brighter top of the hill is used to represent redemption. The animals have also been used symbolically. The leopard symbolizes lust, lion pride and the she wolf is used to symbolize avarice.
Canto II: Summary:
Dante begins to doubt himself. He is not confident that he will make through hell. He compares his weaknesses to that of St Paul (The chosen vessel) and Aeneas He who fathered Sylvius).He therefore asks Virgil for guidance and Virgil advises him not to be a coward. In order to encourage him, Virgil tells him that Beatrice had descended from limbo and had asked Virgil to lead him to a safe place. He was also given an example of two other blessed ladies (Lucia and Rachael) who also had concern for him. Dante is encouraged and promises himself not to leave Virgil but follow wherever he would lead him.
Canto II: Analysis:
The inferno is a Christian poem filled with lots of traditional symbolism. Hell in this case has been described as different from that of Ancients. It is said to be a place where the wrong doers and the wicked will be punished. According to traditional believes, hell has been seen as a place where the people go after death. Beatrice is seen as a link between Dante and his God. Through having a romantic relationship with Beatrice, Dante is brought closer to God. This is never accepted in Christianity but the traditional believes allow it. Dante sees heavenly justice in terms of judgment. God the father is seen to have mercy to the feminine while the male are judged through justice.
Canto III: Summary:
Dante and Virgil arrived in Hell. It is in scripted with words saying that”Abandon hope, ye who enter here”. Dante hears voices of people suffering and weeping. This makes him fear so much till he weeps. Virgil tells him that those were voices of the pagans, the people who were neutral. They Honored God nor were they in Satan’s side. They were referred to as Cowardly people. They were exposed to flies, wasps and worms that tormented them. They had been shut out of Heaven and Hell as they had supported neither. They then come to the shore of river Acheron. This river was the boundary of the true Hell. A daemon, Charon told Dante that he could not cross the river since he was a living man. Virgil tells him that God had accepted it and that Charon had no authority to countermand Gods order. They are allowed to cross the river and Dante becomes unconscious from the sight of the crowds waiting for them at the river bank.
Canto III: Analysis:
The inscription in Hells gate has different attributes assigned to every member of the Holy Trinity. God is seen as the divine authority, Christ the highest wisdom and the Holy Spirit the Primal love. The neutral people are thoroughly tormented though they had not done anything wrong. Dante’s lack of compassion for them shows clearly that Dante was not a believer in compromise. He expects people to out their political stands, like he himself does. Charon and Acheron have been taken from myths. He uses Pagans and geography in his writing to represent the Christian underworld.
Canto IV: Summary:
Dante found himself on the brink of an abyss when he gained his consciousness. He saw Virgil turned pale and was so scared. But Virgin explained to him that he did not fear but was full of compassion since that was where most of his people were. This was the first circle of Hell. The people in this circle seemed peaceful but sad. Virgil told him that these were the people who lacked baptism yet they were virtuous and hence could not be saved. They proceeded to another circle where Virgil was welcomed by three Giants. They finally came to Limbo where the Great non-Christians lived. This circle is filled with honorable people such as Aristotle. They then continue into the darkness.
Canto IV: Analysis:
In this Canto, we learn that Baptism is necessary in Christianity. It is therefore clear that the ancient people were not aware of Baptism and they end up suffering for something that they could not control. They are therefore kept in hell but they weren’t tortured at all. Christianity is widely spread in the book. It is being compared to the classical culture to identify the differences in the two.