Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” is a poem written in first person that tells of Dante’s altered-ego pilgrimage through the three realms of death, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise while trying to reach spiritual maturity and an understanding of God’s love while attaining salvation. Dante creates an imaginative correspondence between a soul’s sin on Earth and the punishment one receives in Hell. “In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straightway was lost. (Canto I, pg. 11). Throughout “The Divine Comedy”, this is the only reference Dante, in my opinion, is referring to that “dark place” we all find ourselves in at some point in time in our own life. I, as Dante’s Pilgrim, have found myself in this “dark place” or “dark wood” once I lost sight of the “beaten path” or “where the straightway was lost” that I was travelling (life). But, it was during this time that I was lost that I not only found myself, but most importantly, I found my soul.
I found the straightway path to my soul while in the dark wood. It is at this dark place or dark wood, that one begins not only to search for answers to one’s sin but to seek answers to the questions of the heart and mind. It is here, of the straightway lost, where the heart and mind no longer struggle for right vs. wrong but to harvest peace. Peace within one’s soul. The peace of one’s soul is born once the heart and mind become one and with this peace one will continue to search for God’s salvation just as Dante’s Pilgrim. The path to Paradise begins in Hell. ” (Dante – The Divine Comedy. When Dante enters Hell on Good Friday, he reads the following posted above the gates of Hell as he is about to enter (Canto III, line 9): “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”. To leave Hell, Dante and his self-ego, must go through all nine circles of Hell, the deeper the circle, the more grave the sin and the sin’s punishment. The gravest punishment is that no one cares nor will help another while in Hell.
Dante recognizes that those in Hell have chosen to be in Hell by their own choice but most importantly Dante learns to recognize and detest man’s sinful nature and the power of evil, and the need to guard against it. Hell has no hope. At times, it seems, more often than enough, that both the world and society are becoming increasingly hopeless. To lose hope is to lose life. To lose life is to gain Hell.
Living is caring and hoping for the well being of man for today and for days to follow. In the Divine Comedy, to leave Hell, one must go through nine circles of Hell. But, for us, are the nine circles of hell the nine hours in the day that we inject ourselves into society? At the end of every day, do we journey through nine circles of Hell? Do we abandon all hope as we enter the day? “The path to Paradise begins in Hell. ” If this is to be true, then tomorrow may I awake in Paradise.