Purgatory is essentially a grand school where individuals learn to improve their minds and souls. Education in this sense equates to purification. The lessons of Purgatory operate through tough love, but also teach by example. As Dante travels though the seven terraces of Purgatory, which correlate to the seven deadly sins, he becomes more and more pure until he's finally ready to ascend to Heaven. A certain amount of learning takes place through repetition, as each terrace of Mount Purgatory requires the penitents to recite examples of punished sin and counterexamples of its corresponding virtue. Dante’s education, however, has an extra level. He eventually realizes that man can only learn so much from reason and must, at some point, surrender to faith in order to accept what he cannot explain.
Although Purgatory teaches its lessons through punishment, it also reinforces them with more positive methods – namely idolization of exemplary role models and repetition of didactic hymns.
In the latter stages of Dante’s journey through Purgatory, Statius and Beatrice replace Virgil as his guide because Virgil – a symbol of human reason – lacks faith in God and is thus no longer fit to mentor Dante.