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The Divine Comedy and Bleak House

The Divine Comedy

In the famous The Divine Comedy by Dante, the poet depicted the journey in the afterlife. The work is based on Christian mythology, on the doctrine of heaven and hell, which is artistically reinterpreted. The hero finds himself in different fantastic places: in the hell, which has nine circles, purgatory, and heaven. Dante sees the amazing wonders, meets with the angels, the righteous, the souls of sinners, God, Lucifer and his minions, and the heroes of ancient myths. His guides are the soul of his beloved Beatrice, who became an angel, and the ancient poet Virgil, who leads the poet through the hell.

The moral sense of Dante’s travel consists in the things that he sees: a place, in which the souls get after the death, is determined by their earthly deeds, earthly life. The righteous go to heaven, closer to God, to the world of eternity. Sinners go to hell. However, neither God nor the Devil decides where exactly a man should get. Sinners threw themselves into hell. The souls who seek to cleanse and hope for a new life are in purgatory.

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The spiritual meaning of Dante’s travel consists in depicting a man in the way of the knowledge of good and evil, the search for meaning in life, spiritual guidance to live right. All journeys are performed in the poet's soul and reveal the truth of the universe. At the end, the hero realizes that love will save the world. The divine love should live in the heart of every earthly man and guide in the life. Beatrice is an allegorical symbol of the forgiving love, purity and joy in work.
The composition of The Divine Comedy is built in extremely symbolic manner. It consists of three parts. The first part Hell consists of 34 songs. The first two of them are the introductory part, where the hero wanders through allegorical forest thickets. It symbolizes his search for truth, where he eventually loses landmarks in the sea of knowledge and feelings. In thickets, he meets animals that symbolize human vices: the lion, who is the personification of vanity and pride, lynx, which represents passion, and she-wolf, which represents greed. Next 32 songs are about hell. Hell is in the abyss, in which there are nine circles. The deeper the circle is, the more terrible sinners are there.

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The other two parts of the work are called Purgatory and Paradise. They consist of 33 songs each. Number 33 has a symbolic meaning for Dante. It is the age of Jesus Christ when He was crucified, the number of harmony. The part about hell has a different number of songs because in hell, there is no harmony. In general, there are 100 songs in the work because this figure symbolizes perfection.

The structure of The Divine Comedy is consistent with the basic idea of the work. It is human’s way from delusions and suffering to spiritual harmony and divine enlightenment through purification.

Bleak House

The work Bleak House does not deviate from tradition of English writers, but still it has some magnetic force, which implicates readers in the depths of the novel. Dickens managed to create a mix of classic English love story, a philosophical drama and detective to complete the fascinating and unpredictable plot.
Bleak House is one of the most advanced works from an artistic point and one of the most complex and controversial works at the same time. Different motifs, themes and storylines are combined in this novel. There are three main themes in the work:

  • The theme of chancery court, which revolves around desperately boring process Jarndyce vs Jarndyces. It is symbolized by the London fog, and birds of Miss Flite. It is represented by lawyers and insane parties of lawsuit.
  • The theme of poor children and their relationships with those whom they help, and with parents. The unhappiest homeless Joe vegetates in a disgusting shade of chancery and does not know that he is a mysterious conspiracy.
  • The theme of secret, romantic interweaving of investigations, which are led by three detectives: Guppy, Tulkinghorn, Bucket and their assistants. The theme of the mystery leads to the unfortunate Lady Dedlock.
    According to the original intent of the author, the novel is a sharp satire on the old system of justice, and procrastination of chancery that is criminal because of its social consequences. However, a satire on chancery court turned into a denunciation of the entire conservative England.

In the novel, Dickens speaks on behalf of the young girl Esther, whose birth is shrouded under a veil of secrecy. She is author’s tongue, eyes and ears. However, Esther is a quiet, shy girl, the embodiment of patience, self-sacrifice and duty. She is so much afraid to be a hindrance to anyone in this world that she becomes a mirror that reflects the reality. Narrating about herself, she brings no emotions to the story, except loyalty and respect. There are particular secondary characters. They are described with such a depth and clarity that sometimes seem to outshine the main personages. Dickens creates bright and vivid images of the story that absorb a reader and keep him/her completely engaged until the last page is not turned.

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The writer deploys a broad picture of the judicial practice and its consequences in the lives of people. Terrible red tape of the court breaks dozens of lives. Social criticism of Dickens reaches particularly acuteness in the description of the English aristocracy. With anger and pain, Dickens writes about the meaninglessness and cruelty of the established order in the country. On the pages of the novel, courageous juxtaposition of the court with a junk shop occurs. This comparison reveals the writer's thought that the legality of the bureaucratic machine has outlived its usefulness. Referring to acute social problems, the author raises a lot of topical issues. Dickens’ satire is sharper than anywhere else before: he is merciless to those phenomena of modern life, which denounces. Bleak House is a symbol, a parabola of human existence that is dark and cold. It is a powerful novel, which is good not only because of the problems raised, but also because of the style of narration.

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