This paper examines the significance of physical movement in Dante’s Inferno to understand the relationship between internal spirit and external behavior. Dante the Pilgrim’s lengthy journey through Hell is marked by many instances of “falling,” which demonstrate his loss of control over this physical body and reflect his inward spiritual weakening. Dante the Poet illustrates these falls through metaphorical descriptions which distance the individual from a shameful act. Still, Dante relates the movement of “climbing” through a more intimate first- or second- person perspective, which appears to relate the physical difficulty of climbing to mental strength. Through examination of various examples of “falling” and “climbing,” which range from the Pilgrim’s entrance into Hell to his later travel in the Eighth Circle, I detail the relationship between physical movement and spiritual development, in order to understand the interconnected nature of human agency and religious epiphany.



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