The Christian life in the soul continues to re-establish its lost likeness to the image of God. The final guide to Dante Alighieri in his journey through the divine comedy, the process can only be completed wholly by the vision of God. Bernard comes in as the character who believed in the doctrine in the poem. He declares that both love and knowledge are essential components in the relationship with God, and you need to undergo contemplation to get there. Bernard states that one needs to first love himself in order to love God. For example, Bernards process is very obvious in his description of the beginning of his journey in Canto I, his contact with Piero Della Vignain Canto XIII of Inferno, the entry into Purgatorio, his stumbling into Cunizza de Romanoin Canto IX of Paradiso. At the end comes Dante's comprehension and accomplishment of his perception of God in Canto XXX of paradise. Dante uses the contemplative process to show how Christians need to reestablish their resemblance to God and demonstrate the variation between heavenly pride and hell pride and explain the only way to God is through love and intellect.
At the start of The Divine Comedy, Dante exercises the lowest form of the contemplative process which is love himself. Then Beatrice intervenes and insists that because of Dantes love he has to start his divine journey. Dante only undertakes this journey because of the love he has for Beatrice. During the first Canto of the inferno, Dante describes that he had gone halfway through his life in a shadowed forest and had lost sight of the path that does not wander away. Dante represents the world when he loses his will to follow God and falls in love with the earthly goods. Through the inferno journey, Dante realizes what it means to have hellish pride and realizes that has those characteristics.
After witnessing the suffering and distress in the inferno, Dante moves closer to God and Dante takes up his second phase of contemplation process. In this second phase he starts loving God for his own sake so as to ensure that he does not end up in the Inferno in the next life. Dante is able to advance to this stage because of the knowledge he has learned from the inferno which enables him to move on to the purgatory. Dante finds the stairs that he has to take so as to get to the purgatory. The first step that he needs to take is a representation of the higher moral state. The first step is described as a white marble which appeared to be very clear and polished. He is able to see himself clearly the way he clearly appears in life and gets some self-knowledge on his sins. Then the second step is made out of crumbling rock which has a rough texture and has cracks which run across the whole surface and is made up of the color purple. He has already recognized his sins which are symbolized by the roughness and cracks which runs through all the steps and he loses the pride that he has. The third step which Dante takes appears to be of porphyry and is flaming red just like blood in the veins. The three colors on the steps have a meaning with white representing the history of salvation, purple signifies the start of incarnation which leads to the fall of man and red signifies redemption. We start off without sin, then move to sin and then back again which shows how we lose our likeness to God after sin and then we must then go back to our creator and try to become like him. Dante states that on the last step when he gets to the purgatory gates the doorkeeper traces seven Ps on his forehead and tells him to take care of his wounds. The Ps symbolize the eradication of the selfishness and the advancement to the third step as he moves to the earthly paradise which also means closer to God.
Dante gets to the third step of the contemplative process when he gets to the first terrace of the prideful. This is the place where Dante believes he will start his expedition into the afterlife. The prideful is portrayed as being punished by bearing all the weight of heavy stones as a symbol of how they have been weighed down by arrogance and love of earthly pleasures. Dante realizes that been famous is not important and is nothing because after we leave the earth other will become more renown. In the thirteen Canto Dante make it known that he fears the punishment in the purgatory. It is also in the thirteen Canto where he realizes that his un-repented pride is his biggest sin and he acknowledges it. Conversely, in each terrace of purgatory an example of the positive action which rectifies each sin is given and it is based on the life of Mary. Then Dante takes up humility as he has seen the effects of pride and hopes that he is reborn on earth.
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