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The purpose of Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise is to give him (and, consequently, the reader) the instruments to understand the nature of sin and the extent of its pervasiveness in the poet's society. This produces a tension between Dante as the author (who is fully conscious of this) and Dante as the pilgrim and main character of the work whose knowlege of sin increases with his encounters. This project of offering a comprehensive vision of sin also accounts for the encyclopedic nature of The Divine Comedy. Only by knowing sin and the different forms it takes, can Dante and his readers avoid it, thus bringing about their own salvation.
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