370). This idea of repentance is the first step towards salvation; however, he still does not understand fully what Beatrice is getting at. This scene of understanding is aided by another pair of scenes from The Divine Comedy. The first occurs when the Pilgrim is in Hell and encounters those who committed suicide. Here the man he meets tells of his suffering: “My mind, moved by scornful satisfaction, believing death would free me from all scorn, made me unjust to me, who was all just” (p. 70). Here the man is describing how he committed suicide to save himself from his punishments. For his crime against himself, he ended up in Hell. The second is when the Pilgrim first reaches Purgatory, he encounters another man, Cato, who reveals his story of suicide: “You know, you found death sweet in Utica for freedom’s sake” (p. 198). Here, Virgil is describing how Cato took his own life instead of becoming a slave of Caesar’s. This illustrates the idea of free will. The first man is in Hell because he killed himself in order to escape his sins, while Cato killed himself in order to not be oppressed. This idea of motive is what lead one to Hell and the other to Purgatory. This same idea applies to Dante and Beatrice. The love that Dante has for Beatrice was bad on Earth because it was only courtly love; however, Beatrice leads him “toward that Good beyond which naught exists to which a man’s heart may aspire” (p. 370). This is what both the Pilgrim and the Author understand. They understand that courtly love is wrong, and that there is a need to attain this higher love, which is described at the end: “I felt my will and my desire impelled by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” (p. 585). Dante the Pilgrim is not going to Hell because he repented for courtly loving Beatrice, and further used her as a guide to find this higher love. By first repenting, and then by understanding, Dante (both the Pilgrim and the Author at this point) realizes the truth, and therefore attains salvation.
Through Dante the Pilgrim’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, he develops an understanding of the proper way to love. When he first beings his journey, he believes that courtly love is a just love. But once he encounters Francesca de Rimini in Hell, he starts to realize it may not be the correct love. Dante the Author also tries to show this point as well. Once The Pilgrim reaches Beatrice, however, his ideals of love are corrected and he repents for his past thoughts. Here is when The Author’s ideals are revealed: courtly love is wrong, and divine love is correct. The Pilgrim understands courtly love is wrong with Beatrice, and finally understands divine love at his final meeting with God. Therefore, Dante Alighieri views courtly love as a sin, and divine love as salvation.