The Existence of Pathos in Dante's Inferno Essay

2032 Words Nov 21st, 2012 9 Pages
Madeleine Calhoun
First Year Seminar
Professor Scheible
11/24/12
The Existence of Pathos in Dante’s Inferno The strength of emotions drives many unjustifiable actions of humanity. The human race is subjected to feelings of pity and compassion. Yet, when did we obtain these potentially harmful yet also helpful feelings? Why do we have these uncontrollable emotions? And what can these feelings possibly contribute to an individual, or a society? There is much contemplation about the roles that pity and compassion, as well as other feelings play into life. Emotions are the basis of all interaction and relationship; they enable a certain level of trust throughout literature, which can also perceptibly be applicable in everyday
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Dante came upon this realization the hard way because many times in hell he was admonishes for showing empathy. When the citizens of hell noticed Dante’s common affiliation with these emotions they viewed him as weak. This concept reinforces that Dante was placed at a disadvantage in this moment in hell. In this situation, Dante saw one of his loves, Francesca. This romantic event obviously stirred him with both compassion and pity.
“So that for pity
I swooned as if in death.
And down I fell as a dead body falls”
(Dante V. 140-142).

Dante’s implicit human instinct drove his emotions towards mercy for his poor lover. His previous mode of affection towards Francesca was no longer welcomed, and he now sympathized for his woman, and the preceding lust that they shared. These feelings should prove Dante a sincere mortal, are inhibit him in this situation. By comparing himself to a falling dead body, this may further be setting him on a similar
Calhoun 4 comparative ground as those in hell. Dante may not realize how much hell is having an internal affect on him. This quote also displays Dante’s capacity to feel compassion for others, and he is instantly vulnerable to the maniacal tendencies of the sinners. He needs the compassion, and reassurance that he will not join the sinners in this cold alternate world. It is inevitable to recognize that fact that because Dante pities those in hell, his own position

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