Dante's Francesca and Paolo: "She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"

1430 WordsJan 14, 20076 Pages
Vanni Fucci Professor Alighieri Freshman Foundations 100 28 September 1308 Dante's Francesca and Paolo: "She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" In Canto V of The Inferno, Dante offers what seems to be a sympathetic portrait of two medieval lovers caught and condemned after re-enacting a passionate scene from Arthurian Romance. A modern reader might well find the story of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta moving, especially when the narrator himself swoons with pity at the canto's end. It is true that in Dante's ethical scheme, the sin of Paolo and Francesca is not among the worst: the two lovers are guilty of "incontinence" rather than bestial intemperance, and the elegant, literary way in which they sin only increases our desire to…show more content…
The narrator, therefore, responds to an essentially pagan erotic and poetic tradition, one to which he feels strong ties thanks to his own poetic sensibilities and aspirations. The narrator's strong interest in the psychological process by which Francesca and Paolo strayed from God's will leads to one final encounter. In that encounter, Francesca describes the process in a way that is both moving and yet austere, leaving no doubt that Canto V's main goal is to drive us through and beyond mere pity and towards an acceptance of the moral law that governs Dante's universe. Francesca explains that one day she and Paolo were reading about Sir Lancelot, and almost managed to get through the romantic story without going astray, when a brief moment too close to their own situation proved their undoing: And time and time again that reading led our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale, and yet one point alone defeated us. When we had read how the desired smile was kissed by one who was so true a lover, this one, who never shall be parted from me, while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth. A Gallehault indeed, that book and he who wrote it, too; that day we read no more. (130-38) Francesca and her brother-in-law Paolo, at the mercy of their passions, repeat the scene from Arthurian romance, identifying themselves with the adulterous Lancelot. The moment is perhaps the most famous one in which, to borrow a line from Oscar Wilde, "Life imitates

    More about Dante's Francesca and Paolo: "She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"

      Open Document