Theme Of Women In Dante's Divine Comedy

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Throughout his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri encounters with two women, which are antithetical to one another in terms of their roles in the context of love. These two women, Francesca di Rimini and Beatrice have similar emotional experiences with their lovers, both having relationships outside marriage; yet they have opposite interpretations of what they experience and where their fates led them. The reader meets Francesca in Inferno, while meets Beatrice in Paradiso. In other words, one of them is being punished, whereas the other women is placed at a divine level. Thus, the female characters within the poem represents two distinct roles of women: either as a pure and holy being, or as a sinful entity. Dante emphasizes the differing roles …show more content…

Francesca and Paolo lack remorse, and forget reason, which led them to Hell. In contrast, Beatrice and Dante’s love story is described in terms of divinity and with respect to God. Francesca di Rimini and Paolo Malatesta are in the second circle of hell, where the lustful sinners are punished. Francesca had an affair with her husband’s brother; two of them were innocently reading a romantic story – Lancelot, and swept up with romantic passion. Consequently, they are being punished together in Hell. “Love led us on to one death” says Francesca (). She portrays herself as helpless and defenseless against the power of love. Furthermore, she says “love…swiftly kindled in the noble heart…still injures me” (). Her repeated usage of love shows that she believes that she did nothing wrong. Love is an implacable force and thus, it overpowered and seized her. Moreover, she continues “…reading one day, for pleasure, of Lancelot, … without any suspicion” (Dante Inf. 5. 127-79). “Without any suspicion” indicates that she was sure of herself and had nothing about falling in love in her mind before reading the book: she was reading the book just for “pleasure” and it “overpowered” (Inf. 5.133) the lovers. She clearly blames her adultery on Lancelot and she does not take the responsibility of her actions. Thus, Francesca and Paolo committed the sin of adultery. Yet, Dante wants to draw attention to something; the word “adultery” never appears through the 147 lines of Inferno 5. This is quite interesting. Dante makes the reader to realize the fact that it is not the adultery causing the fate of these lovers, yet something else causes it. Francesca was helpless in the face of love, yet her passivity against love does not negate any guilt. The guilt according to her, is not her own, instead love made her go down the path of lust. She does not regret and

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