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Dante the Pilgrim and Poet

            In "Dante's Inferno," Dante the Pilgrim goes through some important changes as he progresses further through the Inferno. It is important to view Dante the Pilgrim and Dante the Poet as two distinct and separate characters. Dante the Poet created this hell, so he is stern and moralistic towards the damned souls. Dante the Pilgrim is more naive and sympathetic towards the suffering. This poem is allegorical record of Dante's quest to overcome sin and find God. Dante's reaction toward Francesca in comparison to the shade Bocca, best shows how drastically Dante's attitude towards the damned changes.
             The beauty of Dante the Pilgrim is that readers can relate to his progression through hell. Dante starts the poem trapped in the shadows of his own sin and this is his quest to find light. Dante the Pilgrim enters Hell Proper in Canto V, with the Circle of the Lustful. He meets Francesca and Paolo, two lovers trapped for eternity because their forbidden love. Dante the Pilgrim really shows his poetic side, by fainting after meeting them. Dante's poetic side and adoration for an epic love, clouds his sense of reason. He does not see the souls as damned by their own fault, but rather an injustice. This clouding causes him to lose sight of the fact that Francesca cheated on her husband, and made the excuse that a book caused her to sin. "A Gallehault indeed, that book and he who wrote it, too: that day we read no more," (Canto V 137-138). Dante shows kindness to these souls, but as he progresses he will see the wretchedness of sin. .
             Dante begins to lose some of his compassion beginning in Circle V. Here, the wrathful are striking at everyone, as one strikes at him, defends himself. His behavior indicates that he is changing according to the nature of the sinners and their sins. Dante is often scared and consistently turns to Virgil for safety and relief, in the lower parts of hell. Dante is not only terrified by the shades, but also the multitude of new monsters.

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