Inferno: Too Many Roles??

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Too Many Roles? Kaylee Kelley Although Virgil’s official job title is a “guide” for Dante, we all know there is a lot more going on. Virgil quickly goes from tour guide to mentor and father figure to Dante, and is even chosen to allegorically represent reason. Taking on all these roles, does Virgil have enough character to fulfill all of these roles? Why was Virgil chosen to be the guide, the only other character, besides Dante, to appear all the way through Inferno? Virgil seems to know exactly what to do to accomplish his goals successfully, however, even he has his limitations because he lacks faith in God. Even though Virgil was given so many roles, none of them or a combination of all of them together, seem to be too much for Virgil. Virgil proves to be a well-rounded enough character to take on all of these roles and be successful. Virgil acts as Dante’s guide, showing him not only the physical route through Hell, but also reinforcing its moral lessons. When Dante appears slow to learn these lessons – such as when he sympathizes with sinners or attempts to remain too long in one region of Hell – Virgil often grows impatient with him. For instance, in order to guide Dante onto the right path, Virgil states, “Here pity lives best when it is dead” (C. 20, L. 28), to show that Dante must stop sympathizing with the sinners in Hell because he is siding against God’s judgment. By teaching Dante these important qualities he needs to possess while traveling through hell, Virgil is working to accomplish his goal. To be a successful guide, he needs to guide Dante not only through hell physically, but also spiritually. At numerous other points, Virgil shows his authority by dealing with deterrence that occurs during their journey, “Quit grumbling, Charon…only know that this is willed where power is power to do whatever it will” (C. 3, LLs. 94-96) after saying this,
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