What is the role of love in the Commedia?

An important theme in Dante’s Commedia is the theme of love. Although it is not often mentioned in the story, love is what drives Dante to go through the stages of Hell. One of the reasons Dante is traveling through Hell is to look for his lover, Beatrice, hoping to find her in one of the stages. The movie we watched in class “What Dreams May Come”, helped me actually picture Dante desperately looking for Beatrice. Love is also what drives Dante to not sin because he wants to receive the love of God so he doesn’t get placed in Hell. Love is sort of like a motivation for Dante; even though he kept fainting during the stages in hell, he still managed to keep going and get through all of them.

3 thoughts on “What is the role of love in the Commedia?

  1. Great post on one of the most powerful forces in the Commedia, however I think that while love can portrayed as a positive force that helps Dante along the way, there are various hints in the Inferno where love has lead various people astray. Many of the are represented in sins, such as the love of wealth, violence, laziness, etc. But some are less clear cut, such as a hint that Dante’s teacher loving a man, and the stage where lovers love each other more than God. In a way I think love is more o a double-edge sword in the Commedia, where it can lead to both salvation and damnation depending on what is being loved.

  2. I agree with this post where love is a main force that driven Dente to go through the venture of finding his wife. The “love” in this scenario is the love between lovers. He was driven by love and traveled to inferno for finding Beatrice. In addition, there is another type of “love”, which exist between Dente and Virgil. It’s more like the love between a father and son. They both play critical role in each others’ life.

  3. This is an interesting train of thought; however, I’d argue that Dante’s search for meaning and purpose (in lieu of love) is more or less the motivation of descending into the underworld and exploring the afterlife. Perhaps you could consider this a type of “self-love,” but I am not so sure. After exploring the depths of hell, Dante is discouraged from sin, and though you attribute it to love, it may have much to do with fear or repulsion. Much of the Divine Comedy serves as a sort of cautionary tale; after seeing the horrors of the inferno, what man would not turn towards righteousness to escape persecution and violent, vengeful punishment? I do not think mortal love is much of a driving force for the journey through hell. As a previous comment stated, this love is not always so beneficial for the lover or beloved; consider Francesca’s damnation. The scope of what is considered “pious” or proper love is rather narrow in this interpretation.

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