Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Would Beatrice Do?

That's become something of the principle that guides a lot of scenes in Valley of the Dead, since we have a Beatrice character along for the ride through hell.

In the wood of the suicides, Dante shows considerable pity to the damned. And although Virgil castigates him elsewhere for such feelings, saying that to pity the damned is to argue with Divine Justice, here the sympathetic comments go uncriticized. Why? Well, because in the "real" journey, when he saw the wood of the suicides, the Beatrice character showed them how wrong they'd be to judge such people. Looking upon the hanged and reanimated corpses, she says,

“They were young,” Bogdana said as she got the hatchet from her saddle. “They didn’t know. At least they did it in such a way that they couldn’t hurt others.” She walked over, closer to the writhing limbs, and looked up at their contorted faces as they twisted in their frustration, their movements looking one moment like a tragic, graceful dance, and the next like the spasms of a sick and mortally wounded animal. “They were confused. They probably helped each other to do it. Maybe they were lovers.” She turned back to the three men. “I’ve seen enough yesterday and today to know which people to judge and despise, and which to pity and help. I’m beginning to wonder when you three are going to catch on.”

Rowr! This kitten's got claws.


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