Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante. The comedy is well known not only in the Italian literature but also emerged as one of the greatest literature works worldwide. The imaginative vision of the poem represents a view of the medieval world since it developed in churches. On the other hand, the themes, which are the main ideas in the story, have been outlined well in the comedy. Divine Cmedy portrays many themes such as love, education, salvation, and many others. These themes are often universal and fundamental ideas explored in this work of literature. This paper will focus on love as a theme in Divine Comedy.
Love is seen throughout Dante’s Divine Comedy as his customary power. Dante explains that love is the pillar of natural and mental wills that are connected by God to satisfy the needs of a man’s soul and realign it with Christ. This way, man fulfills his natural desires although he can lose himself in the process by being consumed by earthly desires (Plazzi 1222). In the comedy, Dante explains that in paradise, the soul will ascend to God where the two will be aligned. The soul, in this case, will live in God who is stated as love. Dante went ahead explaining the concept of love in Purgatorio as man’s will.
The Divine Comedy is described in three major parts, namely the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradise that all show the ultimate journey of man towards God’s love. In the paradise scene, the comedy outlines the aligning of man’s soul with God, which evaluates the journey towards God’s love where he states, “I felt my will and my desire impelled by the love that moves the sun and the other stars” (Williams 133). The Inferno shows the effects of turning their back on God that implies being damned for eternity. However, between the two parts, there is Purgatorio that contains the teachings of love (Williams 133). Beatrice is one of the characters that outline the theme of love since she falls in love with Dante in a bid to help him go to paradise and show self-worth of others. At the end, it is evident that Dante attains salvation by transforming his loving will to reach the right path of God’s will. Dante’s love is also shown through the influences of Aristotle, Plato, as well as his love for Beatrice.
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Love is an experience that is hard to explain since there are many variations and connotations. Dante’s idea of love is illustrated in various texts of the Divine Comedy script, such as the Paradise segment. Love, in this case, is characteristic of God since its presence is likened to God’s image in the human form. The Inferno deals with the loss of God’s love by people’s choice of following their desires, emotions, and mental will rather than the primary will of their soul. Francesca and Paolo demonstrate this as they succumb to their little world of love and thus lose sight of what is lasting and divine in paradise (Conquest 18). In Purgatorio, Dante learns the idea of love and recognizes a man’s inherent need to realize the creator and his omnipresence in the physical world. Beatrice helps outline how having a free will, a person cannot be overtaken by an earthly and mortal desire and be oblivious to the primary and innate will of man towards God. The Paradiso is the triumph of the ascension of the soul, where the soul is finally satisfied by being aligned with God’s love and realizing the order of the world he created.
In Paradise, Dante met Beatrice where she states, “There reigns an order, and this gives the form that makes the universe resemble God.” The concept of love is majorly illustrated in Paradise segment since in the Inferno, spiritual love is regarded as a sin that leads to eternal punishment in hell. As Dante passes through the afterlife, he diverges from his natural will; the main point of the entire passage is to make a change in his will by shifting from sin to God (Williams 133). Dante learns in the Purgatorio that he was sent on this journey for salvation because he had wasted the grand talents he had been given him and changed once Beatrice died. As Beatrice states in the Purgatorio, “When I passed into my second age and changed my life for Life, that man you see strayed after others and abandoned me”. Life after death is, in this case, emphasized to show the neglect of Dante’s love towards Beatrice. Loving Beatrice after her death would mean loving the heavens and creation of God. The name Beatrice means “happy and blessed”; thus, she is a symbol of the expected love that should have been shown. Dante loved Beatrice because he knew that loving her soul and meeting her in paradise would last forever, while a relationship on the Earth would not last long and was bound to end as soon as death comes (Andrews 304). Dante’s love towards Beatrice was gradually fading after her death; it meant that he would lose the sight of spiritual love and get exposed to earthly desires by chasing after other women. This way, Dante dismisses what his spirit needs in relation to spiritual existence and heaven. The result of this excursion is learning the way of good and malice, where the Inferno gives information of shrewdness through the determination to natural wishes; the other two sections define good and the wonderful will to God. This learning and change in a will to endeavor towards what the spirit needs helps a person to acknowledge God. Dante, in this situation, needs to comprehend love, proceed to heaven, and realize God.
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Love and will appear in the second stage of hell that illustrates lust with the examples of Francesca and Paolo. The illustration involves the knowledge of what is right and wrong by resisting the earthly desires (Conquest 18). Hell is explained as a place for sinners, where punishment takes place, and for those who sin by being tortured eternally without any hope of being relieved from pain.
Dante shows another side of love in the story by demonstrating Francesca and Paolo’s attractive love, which led to an arranged marriage with Paolo’s deformed brother. However, Francesca was caught in an adulterous act with Paolo’s brother; as a result, Paolo murdered Francesca for the betrayal. Nevertheless, Francesca did not deliberately plan to commit the crime but worked out of the love she had for Paolo. She did not have a chance to repent since her husband caught her in the act and killed her, which led to her ultimate sentence to hell. This way, it is shown that she did not care about her soul but her love for Paolo (Plazzi 1222). In the same case, Dante meets another woman, this time in heaven, named Piccarda. She appears to have married and broken a religious vow to God since she was forced by her brother to leave the convent and marry for political interests. Unlike Francesca, she repented her actions and got a chance to reach heaven. This way, it is shown that only the pure at heart align their souls with God.
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Dante’s journey is an adventure for salvation to secure his will towards God so that he and the people he influences through his story may be able to align with God’s order and live in love. Therefore, people should be concerned with their soul’s fate after death rather than the earthly and greedy desires that consume us in our physical forms. Man’s nature loves and wants God because the typical soul that makes him human is an image of God (Andrews 304). In this case, the eternal love whose object is God himself is caused by emotions over wisdom. Therefore, love is eternal and the only point that unites humans with God, if managed according to God’s will since God kindles love that burns but never consumes.
In conclusion, love can be described as the pillar of natural and mental wills that are connected by God. Love, is a characteristic of God since its presence is likened to God’s image. However, it is an experience that is hard to explain since it has many variations and connotations. The idea of love also implies a man’s inherent need to realize the creator and his omnipresence in the physical world.