Character Traits of Dante the Pilgrim

Categories: Dante

Dante the pilgrim of the Inferno finds himself in a path he did not knew. He has lost his way towards the “true path” (“SparkNotes”). Dante is now in a place of darkness and fear. As he sees light over a hill, he climbs towards it. He then meets Virgil who invites him to join the poets. Dante is flabbergasted but at the same time is apprehensive in taking on the journey. Virgil’s invitation was to join a group of the most celebrated poets ("Cliffnotes.

com") of the world in his time. Dante is humbled by the invitation but seemed unsure of himself and feels unworthy.

Virgil warns Dante of their journey. However, Virgil’s confidence gives Dante assurance and begins the journey. In the Inferno, hell is circular and divided by the levels of sin. Sinners are held in their circle where their punishment fits the crime (“123HelpMe. com”). Dante enters the circles one at a time with his guide Virgil.

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As he enters limbo, he is greeted by the sights and sounds of souls in deep pain. Dante was so terrified that he fainted. As he comes to, he continues on his journey. Dante still feels sympathetic towards the sinners.

As he progresses, he learns to feel less pity towards the sinners ("Cliffnotes. com"). Dante again shows off his human emotion when he weeps and then faints for the second time after hearing the story of the two lovers he met. The lovers were Francesca and Paolo (Raffa).

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Dante was so moved by their passion with one another that he could not contain his emotions. Dante meets a glutton which happens to be his fellow Florentine. He recognizes Ciacco as being well liked when he was still living. He kindly talks to him and says "Ciacco, your distress weighs upon me so that it moves me to tears" (“SparkNotes. om”).

Dante is sympathetic with the pain of the glutton and feels sorrowful for the punishment. However, as he continues to the following circles, he comes to see sin as something dreadful. This is when he meets his enemy, Filippo Argenti, one of the wrathfuls. Dante was delighted to see Filippo slaughtered. Dante’s emotion of empathy suddenly changes to indifference. He felt so much anguish over Filippo that he even wishes him more suffering than what he already is experiencing. With this event, Dante’s character started to change as he is now able to feel no pity for the sinners.

Dante the pilgrim shows true human emotions. He feels pity for the punishment of his idols but at the same time feels pleasure in seeing his enemies suffer. He also feels guilt that he was not able to do what he was told to do. This was when Dante was not able to tell that Cavalcante’s son is dead. As any human would be, Dante is fearful that he may not be able to leave hell. He is now doubtful of the suitability of Virgil as his guide and tests him on his loyalty. As he goes about the following circles, he does not speak to the souls but says out the names he thought most likely to be in the circle.

It is shown here that his sympathy lessens as the circle moves on. Dante’s empathy is one of his greatest characteristics. However, Virgil reinforces Dante’s character (“Shmoop. com”), so he made Dante do something that was spiteful. Virgil told Dante to break off a tree’s branch. The branch started bleeding. Dante showed sympathy and surprise for what he has done. It is Dante’s infinite pity to such souls that defines his character. He again shows off his empathy when he meets Brunetto at the following circle. He even wishes that his mentor was alive again.

Dante was grateful of the teachings that he told Brunetto that he will always be remembered. As Dante approaches another circle, Virgil reprimands Dante yet again. It is now because of Dante’s pausing and weeping at the tormented souls (“SparkNotes”) that annoys Virgil. Virgil insists that there is no more room in hell for Dante’s emotions. They are fast approaching the end of hell and time is not on their side. The fraudulent sinners did not affect much of Dante. As he draws closer to the end of his journey, he now recognizes the true nature of sin. Dante felt the same to the opportunists.

In this circle, he sees Boniface and Nicholas III. He damns them even more. Dante then talked about all the corrupt men of God calling them a burden to everyone (“SparkNotes”). This shows that he is more ready as he approaches the lower levels of hell. Dante now is starting to realize that his pity does not change the future of these sinners. Dante’s emotions shift suddenly when he met the fortune tellers. There, Virgil then reprimands him because of his pity for the sinners. He is also reprimanded for his fearfulness to the demon escorts. Virgil felt that Dante has to become tougher emotionally and spiritually.

This showed that Dante still has more to overcome as he enters hell. Dante easily shifts from pity to anguish depending on the souls he encounters. He did not feel sympathy for the hyprocrites and the sowers of discord and scandal. He even wishes death to all the kin of the soul he met. The hypocrite that he met was Caiphus, who served as a high priest of Pontius Pilate. However, at the same time, Dante is horrified by the sight of the punishment of the sinners. This time Dante stubbornly did not follow Virgil’s instruction while staring at another suffering soul. This soul was his relative Geri del Bello (“CliffNotes”).

Dante realized as he saw him that his death has not yet been redressed. Dante got emotional when he felt grief for the injustice of his kin. This shows that Dante is still human and able to feel human emotions. He feels pity, sorrow, guilt, revenge, fear and happiness. However, he is now able to understand that the punishment must fit the crime. He is now learning to be disgusted by it. Dante met Bocca by accidentally kicking his head. His character transformation was most evident here (“CliffNotes”). It was not of Dante’s character to pull off the hair out of Bocca’s head even before Dante could ask of his crime.

He figured that the last circles in hell were home to the most damned souls. It is in this circle that there is no punishment enough for the terrible crimes these souls have committed. As Dante approaches the last circles of hell, he got violent and less caring of the souls. He begins to threaten and bribe the souls he met for information. Dante does not feel pity but even wishes more pain and suffering for his enemies and people he despise. Dante shows rudeness to the sinners. He felt that his rudeness was appropriate. He attacks sinners in this part of hell. At the earlier circles of hell, he felt pity and sympathy for them.

It was also in his agenda to make some of the sinners remembered back on the surface (Raffa). At the last circle of hell, Dante is stunned and fearful of the presence of Lucifer. Dante could no longer talk to the souls in this circle. Some are frozen in different positions while others are being chewed by Satan himself. Shaken from the sight of Satan, Dante felt no emotions for the souls in the last circle. His main focus is to end their journey through hell. However, Dante is scared that Virgil might go back to his place in hell. Dante’s character is a man who is passionate of his emotions.

Dante feels fear but shows courage. He willingly follows his guide even though he is frightened of hell. He expresses sorrow for the souls of the people he liked and feels pleasant at the sight of his enemies suffering. Dante is very emotional, as shown by his frequent weeping and fainting every time he feels moved or scared. His character is also influenced by his relationship with Florence, his homeland. He feels a strong bond to this city and therefore to others who lived there as well. However, he also expresses his anguish over the corrupt officials of the city.

Dante’s emotions suggest that he has a strong opinion about politics in his time. Dante’s character is rich with emotions. As any human would be, his reactions are affected by what he sees, hears, feels and smells. Towards the lower circles of hell, Dante learns how to resolve his sympathy for pain with the violence of God’s justice. The lower the circle he visits, the less pity he felt for the souls he met. Virgil as his guide helps him in the development of his character. Sometimes, his ways are harsh but definitely needed. Dante learned that his pity for the damned does not change their future in hell.

He is taught to recognize sin as something dreadful and disgusting. God’s justice for the sins committed are expressed in hell. Slowly, Dante recognizes that the punishments are appropriate for the sinners’ crimes. He expressed it by being rude and violent. This lack of remorse towards the sinners allows Dante to fully understand the true nature of sin. He now believes that every man is responsible for their own actions. Virgil has provided him such moral standards that he needs as he continues his journey to heaven. He is now transformed as a morally just and worthy individual.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Character Traits of Dante the Pilgrim. (2016, Sep 23). Retrieved from

Character Traits of Dante the Pilgrim essay
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