Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
The entire action of " Divine Comedy" takes place in one week's time. It is on the night of April 17, 1300, the Thursday before Good Friday, that ‘Dante’ the Pilgrim comes to his senses in the dark wood (the worldly life of sin).
All of the following day he spends trying to find his way out of the place; he attempts to climb a sunlit mountain and is forced back down by three beasts - leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf, that block his ascent. Then, suddenly, the shade of a man (ghost) appears on the scene. The figure is the shade of Virgil, who offers to lead the Pilgrim out of the dark wood by another way. Virgil has been sent to guide the Pilgrim to safety by; the blessed Beatrice. The only way to escape from the dark wood is to descend into hell.
At sunset on the eve of Good Friday, Virgil and Pilgrim enter the Gates of Hell, and all that night and the next day they descend, circling always to the left, until they reach the gigantic figure of Lucifer. Before they reach Lucifer they pass through the three divisions of "Inferno" (Hell). The pilgrim takes careful notice of each region, the type of sin punished, the sinners and the nature of the punishment. Virgil acts as his guide and clears his doubts about all that they come across.
Once they reach Lucifer, they climb down his hairy sides and in a matter of minutes they are in the opposite hemisphere, the midpoint of which is Purgatory.
Once the travelers pass the Center of the earth they gain twelve hours. All of that new Sunday as well as the next night they use in climbing up the long passageway leading to the other side of the earth. This ascent is as long as the descent was from the dark wood, all the way down to Lucifer's navel.