What is the relationship between Dante the Author and Dante the Pilgrim from Dante's Inferno? 

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though it is obviously a work of fiction, Dante's Divine Comedy contains many autobiographic elements. In particular, Dante the pilgrim has many similarities with Dante Alighieri, the real author. 

At the beginning of Inferno, the reader finds Dante the pilgrim lost in a dark wood, unsure of where to go. It becomes clear quite quickly that Dante has lost his way, has derailed his life and is unsure of where to go. As such, he needs Beatrice and Virgil to lead him on a spiritual journey through the underworld, Purgatory, and Heaven, all in the name of helping him achieve atonement and an authentic personal spirituality.

Likewise, Dante the actual author was in the midst of a personal crisis during the period in which he drafted his poem. He had been exiled from his home in Florence, and he himself felt as though he were wandering in a dark wood of confusion and uncertainty. Thus, by writing his epic poem, he too was launching himself on a spiritual quest to come to grips with himself and find some semblance of peace. As such, Dante's real-life journey parallels the the journey of his poetic journey, and in recognizing this similarity we uncover the significant biographical elements of the poem as a whole. 

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Dante's Inferno

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