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Analysis

Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.

Matilda

Is it just us or does Matilda’s entrance in Canto XXVIII strongly mirror something we’ve heard before…where was it? Oh yeah. In the last canto. Matilda seems to be a foil (albeit,...

Dew and Lethe's Water

In almost all contexts, water in Purgatory signifies purification. The one exception is the sea surrounding the island. If it were possible to be purified in that, who in his right mind would climb...

The Griffin and Chariot

In the procession Dante witnesses in the Earthly Paradise, the griffin and chariot, which are positioned centrally, represent Christ and the Church.It makes sense that Christ draws the chariot of t...

The Eagle and the Fox

The eagle and fox attack, drop feathers on, and generally give a hard time to the chariot. The animals, as you might guess, represent a couple enemies of the Church. It’s interesting that the...

The Whore and the Giant

During the procession Dante witnesses in the Earthly Paradise, an eagle sheds its feathers all over the chariot. Then the chariot transforms into a monster, then a whore. And there’s a giant...

Light and Beauty

Compared to Hell's constant darkness and fiery redness, all the light and colors and general beauty of Purgatory offer welcome relief. This imagery also reflects the goodness of God’s works....

Ship Imagery

Dante’s journey through Purgatory is constantly described as a ship cutting through water. Yes, it’s easy to say that this is just a vessel of voyage. Ship = journey. What’s so gr...

Child Imagery

Both Dante’s and Marco Lombardo’s conceptions of the soul often come packaged with loads of child imagery. Let’s talk about the soul first. Marco Lombardo describes the human soul...

Wing Imagery

We’re close to Heaven, so what do you think of when you see wings? Angels? Good call. Lots of the wing imagery occurs around appearances of the angels. The wings signify the angels’ sup...

The Seven P's

The seven P’s carved onto Dante’s forehead represent seven instances of “peccatum,” the Italian word for “sin” or “wound.” That they’re engrave...

Three Steps into Purgatory Proper, the Guardian Angel, and the Two Keys of Saint Peter

The three steps at the foot of the gate to Purgatory proper are an allegory for the Sacrament of Penance. They represent recognition of and contrition for one’s sins. The first stage in the S...
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