Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

In that part of the book of my mind before which there would be little to read is found a chapter heading which says: “Here begins the new life.” It is my intention to copy into this little book the words I find written there; if not all of them, at least their essential doctrine.

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri (DAHN-tay ahl-eeg-YEH-ree), the author, narrator, and editor-commentator. He is also the protagonist in the love story. A Florentine citizen born in the thirteenth century, Dante is in his ninth year when he first glimpses Beatrice, another Florentine citizen in her ninth year, and immediately falls in love with her. He next encounters her when they are both eighteen. He attempts to hide his infatuation from both his beloved and the general populace, but his emotions are so pronounced that they cannot be hidden. In an attempt to relieve the pain of his unrequited love, he composes poems expressing his love and admiration for Beatrice, often masking them by addressing them to others. When Beatrice dies after having lived an exemplary life, Dante joins all of Florence in mourning her passing while angels in heaven rejoice in her presence. A lady looking down from a window has compassion for the mournful Dante and comforts him for a period. Following a vision, Dante realizes the full meaning of Beatrice’s miraculous life and vows to write of her that which has never been written of any woman, a task he presumably accomplishes in his greatest work, The Divine Comedy.


Beatrice, the young girl with whom Dante falls in...

(The entire section is 680 words.)