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There are several ideas that I can deduce from the poems The Inferno and The Plague. Thought a bit complex in structure and written with imagery and allegory, the texts are a rich source of expectations of a human life. The texts explain the purpose that the human life was made for, how the lives can acquire their meaning and how human beings can exploit their potential and finally explains the setbacks of achieving humanity in life. In the text, The Inferno by Dante, there is the purpose of life shown in attempts to avoid getting our bodies to hell after death by way of avoiding sins while on earth. This has been shown in the journey through hell made by Dante and Virgil where Virgil uses human reason and coming to know oneself as the core ways of discovering our purpose in life. It is also our purpose in life to give our lives a meaning.
There are several ways through which we can give our lives meaning according to Dante. This can be achieved through gaining consciousness, having reasons for life, taking responsibility for our actions and sins and knowing that true wealth lies in god. We can also give our lives meaning by exploiting our full potential in life and getting to know exactly who we are as individual human beings. According to The Inferno, there are several ways of meeting our full potential as human beings. The first step towards this is the recognition of our sins and showing our responsibility towards them. Virgil explains to Dante that the problem with people in hell is that that they are irresponsible of the sins committed by them. The other course towards realizing once the full potential is by way of knowing the truth. This can only be made possible by way of knowing God. The other way is through an examination of our lines. This is simply to say that we must know who we are and what we are capable of achieving in life and relating them to those were are not able to do.
There are however serious bottlenecks that hinder the achievement of our full potentials. According to Dante and Virgil, these were probably the rounds of experiences they had in hell. A round-up of everything was the lack of salvation. This has also been supported by the likes of Socrates who said that “to be without salvation is worse than death.” Salvation has been necessitated by the many since that we have committed. Sin has acted as the barrier for destinations toward exploitation of the full potential of human beings. The three beasts that acted as a barrier towards Odysseus going uphill as told at Gilgamesh symbolized sins at work to derail the human beings from exploiting their potential. Unless the sins are overcome through a show of responsibility for them, no much progress can be made towards a coveted destiny. “Three beasts stopped him as he went up the hill” (Sowell, 547)
The sins can be showcased through several means. First ways through which human beings are seen to sin is through cheating. It was told that Odysseus when to hell because he was a liar. However, Enkidu came to his rescue as the straight way to heaven for him had been lost. It was because of one of those kinds of sins that were seen to resemble the appetite that cannot be fulfilled. Another form of sin was that of anger and glumness. The other was the failure to control one’s passion and desire. This can be shown through the lust of the human flesh. The causes of this scene are diverse their control is normally difficult to achieve. Sins make us less human, therefore losing reason and our freedom. These sins include lust for food, sex, and money. In all these lusts, the soul is usually tarnished. An example of the lustful sins was shown in Francesca and Paulo. Francesca had an affair with Paulo’s brother and the two were killed.
There are also other ways by which people sinned as Dante explained. This included the practice of wasting and hoarding of money which involved the use of weights in the gold trade to create wealth. This was a sin because the people focused on material wealth instead of focusing on god for wealth. Virgil farther explained that fortune is usually random and human beings should not focus on the material wealth which is dependent on death. As Job said, “Never know what your fortune is going to be” (Sowell, 552)
According to Dante, of all the sins, fraud is more punishable by God. This because it is usually done by the man himself. This makes fraud accrue greater pain during the process of punishment. Fraud occurs in form of intellectual harm and is usually done by people. Dante explained two kinds of fraud which varied with the level of seriousness. These include the complex fraud and the simple fraud. Simple fraud is said to have happened when an individual tricks another, especially the older person for personal benefits. Complex fraud occurs when a person tricks another especially those who they have their trust. This can happen for example in treason. Other sins include violence, lack of truth in knowing God and failure take a stand between the good and the bad.
The plague of the rats symbolized our conscience as human beings. There is the purpose of life as life is seen as the absurd and lacks significance yet we must make the life significant for us. The old woman talks about how the life she has lived has been such a burden to her yet she has always remained resilient to the state of affair. The two from which Dr. Rieux hails in the 40’s is such a boring and monotonous people. All that people do is to walk, love and die. However, the key interest of the people is basically to work and get rich. This is the main purpose for life here.
Truth and justice were some of the areas in which the meaning life was explained in such an environment where life was useless. This is explained in Dr. Rieux encounter with Raymond. Tareua also got the meaning of life by gaining her consciousness. This was after the rats’ menace had become out of control and therefore started to examine why such had been happening. The dead rats only symbolized level of consciousness in human beings.
There are those things that must be done to ensure that we meet their purpose in life. The people of Oran had to have their existence in mind no matter how meaningless their life had become. They had to forego sleep to ensure that they remain conscious. “Something scary was bound to happen if they had to realize this form of consciousness” (Camus, 78). Stepping on the dead rat, by Dr. Rieux for example, acted as a wakeup call for the people of the town. It was something that was horrifying that ensured that an individual like Dr. Rieux was alienated from the routine and boring life. The encounter with the dead rat was the symbolism of a life that was unexamined. Raymond Rambert and Dr. Rieux used two dimensions of examining life which was conflicting with each other. Dr. Rieux, however, did not want to speak to Raymond since he valued truth and justice. Raymond remained persistent to help Dr. Rieux even though he has remained helpless because he was after giving him reason and purpose of life.
Gaining our conscience about the state of affair and acting upon our problems can help us to achieve our potential and enable us to know who we really are. Rieux was able to examine his situation and act accordingly. He decided to get out of the messed town and move to Paris where his wife lived. The novel explains that all we need to do is to fulfill our potential is to take the right attitude about our meaninglessness. The major drawback towards realizing the full potential in human beings is lack of consciousness of the reason and purpose of life.
In conclusion, human beings have the purpose to make their lives fulfilled by explaining the meaning of life and exploiting their potential. This is evident in the “The Inferno” by Dante and in Albert’s “The Plague.” While in “The Plague’ we must learn to make life significant, we have the purpose to avoid getting to hell in “The Inferno.” However, the common setback in fulfilling the potential of life is usually the lack of truth and conscience.
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