So I know we have a thread about The Inferno, but I thought perhaps another thread with a narrower topic would be fun as well.
Ciardi (the translator) and Scandizzledazzle have suggested that Dante's work can be seen in an allegorical light. To quote Ciardi in his introduction to the first Canto: "First [Dante] must ascend through Hell (The Recognition of Sin), then he must ascend through Purgatory (The Renunciation of Sin), and only then may he reach the pinnacle of joy and come to the Light of God. Virgil offers to guide Dante, but only as far as Human Reason can go. Another guide (Beatrice, symbol of Divine Love) must take over for the final ascent, for Human reason is self-limited" (1017-1018).
I was hoping we could use this topic to expound on this idea of allegory and symbolism in The Inferno-- how, for example, does Dante represent this Catholic process of repentence and divine forgiveness? How does he use symbolism in general?