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Canto 3 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Uncommitted: Souls not rebellious against God and yet not committed

Charon: One who takes travelers across the Acheron River

Dante and Virgil pass through the wide gates of Hell. They read the inscription there (“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”) and enter the Vestibule of Hell. They see those who were true only to themselves in their prior life; these people were not rebellious against God and yet they were not committed to Him in their life on earth. These people rush about but never make any decision; their faces bleed from the sting and bite of hornets and wasps and worms devour the blood which drips to the ground.

Virgil and Dante find a boat rowed by a white-haired man. This ferryman of the Acheron River reminds them that those who cross do not return; Virgil explains that one with will and power has deemed otherwise. When Dante hears the noise of the wind and sees the danger below, he swoons.

Discussion and Analysis
The gates of Hell are wide and easy to enter; this is in direct contrast to the straight, narrow way that Dante lost before he found himself in the wood on Maundy Thursday. The inscription reminds those who enter that they must give up all hope; they make the trip to Hell as a choice and cannot return. This inscription, Virgil reminds him, does not apply to Dante. Dante is not dead and he has been given special permission to visit beyond the gates. Dante, nevertheless, feels fear; Virgil must smile and again remind Dante that...

(The entire section is 410 words.)