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by Dante Alighieri

Purgatorio Theme of Time: Haste, Change

In Purgatory, everyone rushes about. Dante is warned by his teachers to hurry. The penitent souls rush towards the top of the mountain in their keenness for the gates of Heaven. This awareness and worry over time contrasts sharply with the never-ending tediousness of Hell found in Dante's Inferno.

Like the human world, Purgatory operates on a normal time scale. This means that things change here, which – if you think about it – is the whole point of Purgatory. Men repent for their sins on earth. They work to improve themselves and make themselves morally better in God’s eyes. The passage of time allows these changes to happen.

Questions About Time: Haste, Change

  1. How does time operate differently in Purgatorio than in Inferno?
  2. Why is everyone in Purgatory in such a hurry?
  3. What does it mean that one cannot travel during the night? What, then, might the sun represent?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The concept of time in each of the three realms (Hell, Purgatory, Heaven) dictates whether or not an individual can change his character in that place. While one cannot change in Hell, where damnation is eternal, he can change in Purgatory, where time runs as it does in the mortal world.

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