Dante's Inferno Plot Diagramming

par Lesson Plans CB2

Creative Commons Wednesday October 5, 2016

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I'm feeling so lost! I literally don't know where I am, and I need to get back on the godly path!

I can help you! I know the way, and I'm basically the gatekeeper here. Name's Virgil.

What do I do now?

Man, that guy sure deserves what he got... and then some!

Man, it's been getting super creepy. I'm READY to get outta here!

Exposition
Main Conflict
Rising Action
Climax
Falling Action
Denouement
ExpositionI'm feeling so lost! I literally don't know where I am, and I need to get back on the godly path! | I can help you! I know the way, and I'm basically the gatekeeper here. Name's Virgil.Dante, lost and soul-broken at the opening of Inferno, wanders lost in a dark path. He feels he has "lost his way" at the mid-way point of his life, and becomes terrorized by various wild animals in the wildnerness of Canto I. There, he runs into Virgil, a lost soul (shade) who shares that he will guide Dante through Inferno to where he must go. Main ConflictWhat do I do now?Inferno's main conflict is Dante vs. himself: he doesn't feel that he is on the one true path (the path of the godly) and isn't sure which way to go from here, in his mid-life. He has lost the love of his life, Beatrice, and feels his faith fading... He learns from Virgil that Beatrice came to him "from Heaven" and instructed Virgil to be Dante's guide, to help him through his mid-life crisis to find himself, and thus God and the godly path, again. Rising ActionVirgil leads Dante to the gate of Inferno, with the inscription to "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Passing this first threshold moves Dante and Virgil into Dante's first encounter with the condemned, as he hears the tormented cries and screams of those in Inferno. Dante's response tells us he remains a compassionate being: "I, at the beginning, wept thereat" (Canto III). Another rising action event is where Dante observes Minos circling his tail to identify to which Circle of Inferno the sinner will go; Dante thus encounters Paolo and Francesca in the Second Circle. This Circle of Hell is for those condemned based on Lust or Carnal Sin. Dante invites the sinner Francesca to share her tragic tale, as he wishes to learn from the sinners at this point in Inferno. Again, Dante's response is one of deep sadness and pity, which hits him hard: "I swooned away as if I had been dying, / And fell, even as a dead body falls." ClimaxMan, that guy sure deserves what he got... and then some!While Inferno may not have a true climactic moment, considering that it is the first of three epic poems amongst Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, there does seem to be a turning point for Dante as a character in this story. The turning point seems to be where Geryon flies Virgil and Dante deeper into Inferno, dropping them at Malebolge. This feels climactic to me, as Dante moves from being compassionate toward the sinners throughout Hell to now -- post-flight -- aggressively reminding a sinner why he's placed as he is, eternally. Where Dante pesters Pope Nicholas III (enveloped in flames) in the Third Pouch as a Simoniac, he taunts: "stay here, for thou art justly punished, / And keep safe guard o'er the ill-gotten money." From here, we continue seeing this less soft-hearted version of our hero. Falling ActionMan, it's been getting super creepy. I'm READY to get outta here!Malebolge; demon flight through the 8th Pouch back to the 6th within the Eighth Circle; navigating through the Ninth Circle of Traitors -- of Kin, Country, Lord and Guests (Cantos XXXII - XXXIV). DenouementDante is no longer wrestling with himself -- mid-life crisis averted! He knows that his journey isn't over, yet he is relieved to move toward the stars and out of Inferno having encountered the Devil Himself in the deepest center of Hell as a three-headed giant gnawing on the three worst Traitors Against Benefactors (Cassius, Brutus, Judas). Dante will continue to pursue the godly path, and leave Virgil as he can no longer serve as his spirit guide. Thus, his conflict with himself is over.
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