What Dreams May Come And Dante

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What Dreams May Come And Dante’s Inferno Essay, Research Paper Death and what comes after has always been a subject of great interest and uncertainty. Many have tried to depict their own vision of the afterlife, be it heaven or hell, paradiso or inferno. Here, I will discuss the similarities and differences in the hell represented in the movie What Dreams May Come and the Inferno of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. What Dreams May Come is a movie about two soul mates, Chris (Robin Williams) and Annie (Anabella Sciorra). After Chris’ death in a car accident coupled with the death of her two children four years earlier, Annie commits suicide. While Chris has gone to heaven and discovered that his heaven is living in a world of Annie’s paintings, Annie has gone to a hell

also of her own making because of her suicide. When Chris learns of Annie’s death and her place in hell, he vows to go there and bring her back. The main theme is that soul mates exist and love goes on after death. One of the main differences between the hell that Dante paints and director Vincent Ward creates in the movie is the idea of the afterlife being objective or subjective. In the Inferno, Dante paints a hell of fire and brimstone, carefully divided and subdivided. Everything is meticulous and standardized. A place and punishment is dished out for every crime. For example, circle seven, depicted in Cantos twelve through seventeen is the designated place for the violent but has many subdivisions including violent against neighbor, self, God, nature, and art; each with

their own punishment. Although Ward’s vision of hell draws much from the traditional thinking of Dante’s version, perhaps only for the sake of painting a picture of hell on the screen, the major difference is in the subjectiveness of it. In an interview regarding the film, director Vincent Ward stated “rather than there being an objective paradise where everybody’s paradise is the same, you create your own paradise and it’s whatever you want it to be” (”A Note on the Afterlife”). For Williams’ character, Chris, his paradise was living in one of his wife Annie’s paintings. But the same theory holds true for Annie in hell. Annie is not in her place in hell because she has been deemed by Minos to be a suicide and assigned her level; she exists there because she

has made a hell of her own. Her hell is living in a world without her husband and children, which she tried to escape through committing suicide but lives on in due to her own self-loathing and guilt. One central difference between these two works is the nature of Chris and Dante’s travel into the inferno. While Chris has already died and gone to heaven, Dante is still living. Chris leaves heaven and descends into hell for his own purpose of bringing his soul mate, Annie, back. Chris had a choice as to if he wanted to go down to hell but Dante did not. His trip was divinely ordained and orchestrated. His reason in going is because he has been wandering from the “True Way” and has been sent to be taught an important and valuable lesson. In both works, there is the common

relationship of student to teacher. In What Dreams May Come, Chris locates a “tracker” to assist him in his journey to hell to find Annie. This tracker is Albert, a man who Chris studied under as a medical student and has a great deal of love and respect for. However, Chris does not know that this tracker is his old mentor. In the film, Albert states “thought is real and physical is the illusion.” He is not in the bodily form that Chris recognized him as on Earth. He has assumed the form of an elderly white man and does not identify himself to Chris until a crucial point in the film. In life, he was Chris’ mentor but in the afterlife, he is his friend and escort. A similar relationship of student to mentor exists in the Inferno between Dante and Virgil. Virgil, as a