Divine Comedy: Purgatorio Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How is a soul freed from Purgatory?

    When the soul overcomes its fleshly desires and reorients its will, it is able to ascend Mount Purgatory and enter Paradise. It is detained in Purgatory because its desires (fleshly) do not match its will (heavenly). As Statius says, "Our purging's proof rests solely in the will, which, free to change its place and company, takes the soul by surprise, and brings delight to will the change. Before this, certainly we will – but our desire will not allow, wishing that Justice deal us punishment as once we wished to sin" (Canto XXI.61-67).

  2. 2

    Explain why Dante is on this dreamlike journey from, Inferno to Paradiso.

    As Beatrice explains in the final chapters of Purgatorio, Dante had lost his way and was pursuing false goods rather than the true Good. To shake him out of his apathy and base pursuits, she sent Virgil to show him the terrors that await sinners in the Inferno, then how the Christian can substitute temporary punishment for eternal torment in Purgatory. In the final installment, Beatrice will show Dante the glories of Heaven, completing the journey she sent him on for the sanctification of his mind.

  3. 3

    Why does Virgil disappear at the end?

    When Dante is in the Earthly Paradise, he sees a marvelous vision-like procession that contains much symbolic imagery. He sees Beatrice among the blessed and turns to tell Virgil, but Virgil is gone. It soon comes to light that Beatrice sent Dante on his journey in order to shake him out of his spiritual apathy, and she enlisted Virgil to guide him through the Inferno and Purgatorio. Virgil, however, being a damned soul, cannot enter Paradiso; he therefore disappears, returning back to the Inferno, as he has completed his duties. Beatrice then steps in, replacing Virgil as Dante's guide as they ascend through the spheres of Heaven.

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