Light and Dark in La Commedia

Kyle McCreanor

Abstract


In Dante Alighieri’s crowning work, La Commedia, the author narrates his divinely ordained journey through Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise in poetic detail. As Dante’s pilgrimage advances, his environment becomes increasingly brilliant—from the total darkness of Hell to the unbearable brightness of God’s eternal light in Paradise. For Dante, light is a powerful means of establishing ambience; however, it can also represent goodness, divinity, wisdom, and truth. Conversely, darkness commonly represents evil, impiety, ignorance, and heresy in literature. This essay examines the various manifestations of light and dark throughout La Commedia, giving attention to Dante’s physical journey from darkness to light and the symbolic meanings of these elements in the text.

Keywords


Dante Alighieri; La Commedia; Divine Comedy; light; dark

References


Alighieri, Dante. Inferno: A Verse Translation. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Print.

Alighieri, Dante. Paradiso: A Verse Translation. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Print.

Alighieri, Dante. Purgatorio: A Verse Translation. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. Print.

di Scipio, Giuseppe. “Dante and St. Paul: The Blinding Light and Water.” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society no.98 (1980): 151-157. Web.

Gaffney, James. “Dante’s Blindness in Paradiso XXV-XXVI: An Allegorical Interpretation.” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society no.91 (1973): 101-112. Web.

Mazzeo, John. “Dante’s Sun Symbolism.” Italica 33 no.4 (Dec. 1956): 243-251. Web.


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