Event Title

The Sinister Way to Salvation: Directionality in Dante’s Inferno

Location

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

Start Date

18-4-2017 3:30 PM

Description

PURPOSE: Dante’s Inferno is a tale about a journey; hence, it involves directions, locations, and points relative to other points. This study examined how, just as the character Dante descends through Hell to ascend to Paradise and makes left turns to proceed to the right around the circles of Hell, so also Dante must recognize his own sin in order to repent and be redeemed. PROCEDURES: Careful examination was made of medieval definitions of directional binary oppositions such as sinister and dexter, as well as binary oppositions related to spirituality such as sin and repentance. This word research was combined with the study of critics’ previous work on the significance of left and right in the Middle Ages and other spatial elements of Dante’s work. OUTCOME: This study’s author concluded that in the directionality of Dante’s Inferno, the real issue is not which way Dante turns as he enters each circle of Hell, but rather what direction he ends up traveling and where he finishes his journey. In other words, what is most important is how each person responds to his/her sins. Does he/she continue turning “left,” or is sin used as a motivator to “right” repentance? IMPACT: The value of this study to the field of English literature is that it takes into account elements of Dante’s work that are oftentimes viewed as insignificant to the story and its overall themes. Instead, this paper emphasizes that every detail of a story is important—even its most minor directional terminology.

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Apr 18th, 3:30 PM

The Sinister Way to Salvation: Directionality in Dante’s Inferno

Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall

PURPOSE: Dante’s Inferno is a tale about a journey; hence, it involves directions, locations, and points relative to other points. This study examined how, just as the character Dante descends through Hell to ascend to Paradise and makes left turns to proceed to the right around the circles of Hell, so also Dante must recognize his own sin in order to repent and be redeemed. PROCEDURES: Careful examination was made of medieval definitions of directional binary oppositions such as sinister and dexter, as well as binary oppositions related to spirituality such as sin and repentance. This word research was combined with the study of critics’ previous work on the significance of left and right in the Middle Ages and other spatial elements of Dante’s work. OUTCOME: This study’s author concluded that in the directionality of Dante’s Inferno, the real issue is not which way Dante turns as he enters each circle of Hell, but rather what direction he ends up traveling and where he finishes his journey. In other words, what is most important is how each person responds to his/her sins. Does he/she continue turning “left,” or is sin used as a motivator to “right” repentance? IMPACT: The value of this study to the field of English literature is that it takes into account elements of Dante’s work that are oftentimes viewed as insignificant to the story and its overall themes. Instead, this paper emphasizes that every detail of a story is important—even its most minor directional terminology.