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Divine Comedy – The Medieval Church and Dante’s Inferno

The Medieval Church and Dante’s Inferno

Some people think that the medieval churches view on sin, redemption, heaven and hell was very complex, but actually the churches views were straight and to the point. I will discuss with you what sin, redemption, heaven and hell were to the medieval churches and I will also share some examples in the story that will help you better understand The Inferno and the medieval churches views.

Let’s begin with sin. A sin was said to be a deliberate and purposeful violation of the will of God. “The medieval churches thought that sin was also a failure to live up to external standards of conduct and the violation of taboos, laws or moral codes” (“Christianity”). Obeying God was extremely important and was to be taken very seriously. If you sinned then you were saying and proving that you hated God. Sin was considered to be pure evil and if you sinned then you would have to face the consequences whatever they may be. The bigger the sin was the greater the consequence was.

The medieval churches labeled their sins under two different types. The first type of sin, “Mortal sin or actual sin, was when a person knew exactly when they were sinning and sinned anyway” (“Sin”). Knowing fully what the consequences would be. The second type of sin, “Venial sin or material sin, was when the person sinning had no idea that they were sinning” (“Sin”). They didn’t sin deliberately to disobey God.

You can find the numerous types of sins in a very important book that the early Christians relied on, the bible. “Since God has spoken to us it is no longer necessary for us to think” (Gilson). The only thing that matters for each and every one of them was to achieve their own salvation. All that the…

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…pe you learned something new about the medieval churches and also some helpful insight to the views of Dante in Inferno.

Works Cited

“Christianity: THE CHURCH AND ITS HISTORY: Christian doctrine: THE CHURCH: Scriptural Traditions.” Britannica

Online. [Accessed 28 January 2001].

Etienne, Gilson. Reasons and Revelations in the Middle Ages. New York: New York, 1938.

Etienne, Gilson. The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy. New York: New York, 1940.

“Heaven.” Britannica Online. [Accessed 28 January 2001].

“Hell.” Britannica Online. [Accessed 26 January 2001].

“Sin.” Britannica Online. [Accessed 28 January 2001].

David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly and Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest as Examples of Postcolonial Drama

In the closing lines of M. Butterfly, Gallimard, the hapless French diplomat/accountant turned spy, says, “I have a vision. Of the Orient” (92). At the moment he is speaking of his remaining belief that there are beautiful women, as he thought his “Butterfly” was, but it is indicative of the colonial impulse. Colonization becomes possible because a society can characterize another society in ways that make colonization seem like a positive endeavor. As Said notes, the characterization of other cultures, such as the Orient or Africa, is carried out in the popular realm through works of art, literature and drama. Indeed, books, plays, poems and stories are just a few of the forms used to indoctrinate the masses of a colonizing nation with the rationale and impulse to colonize.

As if to underscore this point, one way to rebel against colonization is to warp the tools of the colonizer to support the cause of liberation. The strategy seems to be especially popular in drama, where there are two stellar examples of postcolonial literature, A Tempest by Aime Cesaire and M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang. These plays are rewritten versions of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, respectively, and retain the same characters and basic plot elements. Both Shakespeare’s and Puccini’s works helped create symbols of other cultures – Caliban is a black devil, and Cio-Cio San is the meek and beautiful “Butterfly.” These characterizations have become stereotypes in Western culture, and formed, or at least mirrored, the rationale for colonization.

To make these pieces work against the notion of colonization, Cesaire and Hwang must significantly alter the content. They do so, and they also eschew mimicking the styl…

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…, and the victories represented in these plays are not large scale liberation, so it is even more difficult to see the correct path.

The stories we tell each other make up our world. Just as the Nick Redstocking stories created a Native American dialect that never existed, The Tempest and Madame Butterfly fabricated characters that came to stand as symbols of entire cultures. The power of stories is especially evident when we look at the role our art and literature has played in imperialism. Fanon would say the way to overthrow a physically present governing force is through violence. Hwang and Cesaire do a similar violence to the pieces that keep us imprisoned in false notions of the other. It is only through taking over these works, appropriating and reconstructing them, that we can be psychologically liberated from the rationale and impulses of the colonizer.

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