‘The Divine Comedy’ written by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri was published in 1320 a year before his death. The long narrative is written in the format of a poem, which is divided into three parts and explores the journey of Dante’s alter ego and his fictional self which exists within the poem is in search of the true way to live life in accordance to the Christian teaching and morals of life. Dante the pilgrim explores the different realms when he makes his journey to the underworld, to purgatory and paradise.
The difference between Dante the poet and Dante the pilgrim which embarks on this spiritual journey is the reasoning. For Dante the poet, the journey is explored because of his christian quest to seek and follow God’s path and to abstain from wrongdoings. Due to his political interests it led to his exile, he felt he needed guidance because he had lost his way. However, it can be also be argued that the poetry explores Dante the poet’s love interest, Beatrice Portinari who was influential on Dante’s work and chooses to embark on his spiritual journey in search for Beatrice. The Divine Comedy explore the themes of spiritual love that Dante carries for Beatrice. This can be evident within Dante’s poetry when he transforms himself into the fictional character of Dante the pilgrim, who speaks to King Minos and looks for her. ‘One who loves Beatrice! Tell me where to find her!’. Portinari heavily influenced Dante’s journey as she poses as his mediator within the first part of Dante’s Inferno, she can be seen as the reason Dante the pilgrim, travels through Purgatorio and Beatrice is his guide within Paradiso. However, in reality her brief encounters with Dante are built on little or no true knowledge of Beatrice Portinari’s personality for him to write her into his work to such an extent. Beatrice acknowledges’ Dante’s presence within the poem however,it is difficult to differentiate who she is addressing, Dante the poet or Dante the pilgrim being the fictional character existing within the poem of Inferno within Canto 2, she prays for Virgil to guide Dante and direct him towards the right path. “A friend, not of my fortune but myself,…has met Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn’d.Now much I dread lest he past help have stray’d, And I be ris’n too late for his relief,From what in heaven of him I heard.” She believes that she is too late to save Dante and suggests for the poet of Virgil to take over and assist him.
Another difference between Dante the poet and the fictional character of Dante the pilgrim is the positioning of the narrative and role the two play even within their own society both fictional and reality. Despite the narrative being focused on Dante, it reflects a widespread Christian quest which Dante the poet consciously makes a decision to have Dante the pilgrim be a representation of mankind. This must be due the influence of Allegorical plays within the medieval time period which affected Dante the poet’s narration of the poem. The morality play ‘Everyman’ can be influential as it looks at an individual’s life, from birth to death and teaches Christians, principles and moral values on the way they should live. Dante the poet could have used this to influence his own work as he looks at the journey after death into the underworld exceeding to paradise, following in a similar allegorical manner in teaching morals and the effects of sin on individuals.
However, the voice of Dante the pilgrim appears weaker and undetermined through his journey, as we are aware he has committed a sin but it is not specified and that he engages in political matters, we do not resonate with him as a whole due to the lack of information about his life. As he doesn’t stand out and does not demonstrate many unique characteristics which are prominent which compared to the voice of Dante the poet impacts the undertone of the poem. Dante the poet’s background and the effect of being exiled in 1302 can be linked to influencing his work, Dante the pilgrim’s journey to hell and witnesses sinners suffering punishment because of treason and are liable for betraying others within ‘The Inferno’. It can be argued that to some degree, Dante the poet’s life experiences are reflected into the allegorical journey Dante the pilgrim experiences and used as a method to address Dante the poet’s own sins and he uses this metaphorical journey to intervene in his own life.