Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Pitiless Piety

Pity plays a huge role in Dante's Inferno. It is the key emotion that Dante confronts during his passage through hell. Those in hell feel sadness, and this sadness, being an ordinary human emotion, is expected to result in the ordinary human response of pity from those who observe, but cannot share the sorrow. This normal human response is incorrect, since those feeling the sorrow are doing so on account of their transgressions, and in paying their penance are unworthy of receiving any pity. This is the complication that Dante must reconcile with himself as he travels through the levels of hell. Dante must learn from his encounters with the sinners in order to lose his pity. This is accomplished through an understanding of the nature of the sins. These sins are divided into three main categories: indulgence in animalistic desires, the use of violence, and the use of deceipt. He must also learn that the fundamental characteristic that all the sinners share is a certain vain pride that does not allow them to repent their transgressions. Dante is placed in a difficult situation; in order for him to understand the nature of the sinners, Dante must encounter them while confronting the danger of being tricked by them. They try to...

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