Analysis of the Paradiso Canto 30 of the Dante’s “Divine Comedy”
Analysis of the Paradiso Canto 30 of the Dante’s “Divine Comedy”
Before answering the questions posed in the assignment, we shall speak briefly about Dante’s novel to gain thorough knowledge of the subject, and provide it with some background necessary to unfold the novel, and answer our questions.
The Divine Comedy Historical Context. The divine comedy marks the beginning of the Italian Renaissance literature. The book is the first important work written in Tuscan, a dialect that would eventually turn into the language of arts and literature in all Italy, and would serve to create the idea of an Italian nation in the 19th century. Dante’s work is regarded as one of the most important examples of Renaissance literature, not only because of his influence, but all the symbols hidden in the novel. One of the most important, and best-hidden allusions of the book, are those who have to be with the church. In the 14th century, church had a dominant role in keeping Europe as a cohesive unit. Church had the power to appoint, and dethrone kings based on the divine right, that kind of spiritual power gave it a bargaining chip in all the treaties and situations in the continent. However, the earthly power made it behave like a nation, and the church had its ups and downs, like any nation.
In the politic sphere, the Italian peninsula was not the country it is today, on the contrary, it was composed of many city states that constantly waged war with each other. Thinking of ancient Greece would be a good comparison. Dante was from Florence, one of the most important cities of the peninsula, but there were some other important enemies in the scene. Or example, the Holy Roman Empire always meddled in the Italian city states’ affairs, and took part in a city, or another, and then reaped the benefits. Dante’s hometown was one of the most advanced cities in Italy, a city that had banking institutions, and a buoyant textile industry that traded with all the known world. In that world grew Dante, and in one of the most cosmopolite cities of the world, he grew to be one of the greatest writers in the history.
The Divine Comedy Analysis. As we stated before, The Divine Comedy is the beginning of Italian literature and has become one of the most significant works of the Middle Ages. The book is a complex allegory that emphasizes the importance of salvation, and divine love. The book is infused with Christian themes and brings many of those subjects into the discussion, by writing about them. The book is a complex narrative, intertwined with biblical stories, classic myths, and contemporary politics, all mixed with satirical intentions. Dante can be regarded as one of the first Renaissance writers since there is a pretension of universality in his book. We can find many that many of the images he uses are clear allusions to worldly conflicts between church, and secular leaders.
The Divine Comedy is structured around the number three and the number ten. In the Christian symbolism, the number three represents the Holy Trinity: God; Son and the Holy Ghost. And the number ten represents the perfection, or the perfect number. To illustrate what we say, we shall dissect the book. The Divine Comedy has three “cantiche”: Hell; Purgatory, and Heaven. Each cantica has thirty-three cantos, excepting the first cantica, which has thirty-four. If we add all the cantiche, it gives us a total of one-hundred, which is the perfect number squared. In the same way, each canto is written in tercets that interlock each other.
What was the significance of Virgil, and the disappearance of Beatrice? Virgil was in life, one of the greatest Roman poets. Virgil’s greatest work, the Aeneid was highly regarded by Dante, and the use of Virgil as a guide is not casual. We might even think that Dante is using the image of Virgil to establish himself as important as the poet, or even better. However, in the book the spirit of Virgil appears as a guide who promises Dante salvation. However, that salvation does not come in a short way. Virgil offers the author salvation through Hell, and the purgatory to finally achieve heaven. Seven from another light, we might consider that Dante’s journey through Inferno to Heaven is also a journey of self-realization. He accepts Virgil as his guide, but them he replaces him with Beatrice, which means that he is embarking on a new moment of his career. Instead of writing in Latin, like Virgil, and his contemporaries did, he writes in Tuscan, a language regarded as vulgar and vernacular, signaling a new beginning in literature. To Dante, Virgil represents Reason. To Dante, reason is the first step in his journey, as knowledge is the first step to embrace god, and attain salvation. By knowing, we understand that there exists something better. Besides, the figure of Virgil, a pagan man, represents the old ways, and the preeminence of Christianity
Beatrice represents to Dante, all those things are pure. In Paradiso, Beatrice represents an incarnation of faith; beauty, and wisdom. All of them qualities the poet would like to see in Florence. The image of Beatrice serves two purposes, the first, a spiritual one, as it refers to all the virtues of Paradiso, incarnated in a woman, and at the same time is used as a critic of the sorry state of Florence. In Paradiso, Beatrice is a God’s instrument to show Dante the virtues of heaven. We can say that the figure of Beatrice is there to show Dante love, and by that love get him closer to the ultimate love, the love of God. In that light, Beatrice could represent faith, since she is regarded as the purest thing in heaven, and her relation with love, in its purest form, can be seen as a representation of the Christian faith. In a way, we could think that Beatrice’s disappearance was something that had to happen, and also go with the development of Dante as a writer, and as a human. In order to Dante be able to reach finally the paradise, he must leave behind his carnal affections, as heaven is a perfect place where earthly pleasures are not needed. When Beatrice leaves him and takes her places with the saints, we can see that she steps aside so he can continue his journey. If looked closely, we could say that Dante relinquished love, as an act of true faith to find perfection.
Why did Bernard replace Beatrice? The allusion to Saint Bernard is not in vain, and it poses an interesting philosophical debate. Scholastic philosophy stated that there are two ways to reach God, through prayer, and through the knowledge of the mysteries of faith. Bernard of Clairvaux considered that without knowledge, the soul would have nothing to look forward to, and if we lose knowledge, we should go on a journey to reunite with God, and he, by his infinite grace, would return us what we have lost. To Bernard, it is only by knowing God that we will be able to know him. That is why Bernard is the last guide in Dante’s journey, as he is the symbol of the knowledge needed to meet God finally, and be able to know that it is real, and not his senses playing tricks on him. Bernard replaced Beatrice because it was part of his journey, Beatrice was a symbol of his earthly love, and what bounded him to the flesh. With the guide of Bernard, Dante finally finds the last piece he needed to meet God and be able to really know him.
How did you find yourself responding to those events? If we followed Dante’s journey closely, we could realize that the images are cleverly put to provide the correct atmosphere in each canto. Nevertheless, what really caught our attention was that despite all the theological, and political overtones of the poem, Dante’s journey is a journey of self-discovery, and self-actualization. For instance. The image of the forest found in the first canto, means that the poet was not on the path of the righteous, he had lost the will to follow God, and it is through his journey that he finally finds the correct way. The image of Bernard shows us more we could think at a first glance. The process done by Dante is a contemplative process, like the stages proposed by Bernard to finally find God. First, Dante had to relinquish his pride when considering himself as a new Virgil. Second, he loses the woman he loved the most to finally realize that the earthly pleasures only make us stray from god’s path.
With Virgil, Beatrice, and Bernard, we have Reason, Faith, and Contemplation. Each of the earlier terms leads to the latter. Each of the latter terms goes beyond and also preserves the one(s) that are before it.