Dark Wood

Guy P. Raffa

in Danteworlds

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226702674
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226702780 | DOI:
Dark Wood

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This chapter presents a brief plot summary for the “dark wood”, followed by explanations of “encounters” and “allusions”, significant verses (in Italian and English), and study questions to aid in comprehension and facilitate discussion of the poem. It is early spring in the year 1300 and Dante, “midway along the road of our life,” has strayed off the straight path and finds himself in a dark wood. Heartened by the sight of a sunlit hill, he begins to climb to safety, but soon he is beset by a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf and forced to retreat to the valley. Here, Dante meets the shade of Virgil, the great Roman poet. To escape his dire predicament, Dante must visit the three realms of the afterlife, beginning with Hell, eternal abode of lost souls. Dante hesitates, declaring his unworthiness to undertake such a journey, but is persuaded to go when he learns that Virgil has been sent by Beatrice to rescue him.

Keywords: Dante Alighieri; Divine Comedy; hell; dark wood; Virgil; afterlife

Chapter.  2614 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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