Thursday, January 14, 2016

Paolo and Francesca in Hell

Ever since I saw Rodin's sculpture "The Gates of Hell" while in college I was deeply moved by the story of Francesca da Rimini, whom Dante describes in his Inferno. Her story holds a strong moral lesson on many levels. From Crisis:
The story of Paola and Francesca, forced to reenact their lustful gaze forever in Hell, can teach us several things about the reality of porn. First, just like the whirlwind in which the carnal find themselves, lust and pornography can excite, but cannot satisfy. Turning to pornography for sexual satisfaction is like a man who turns to salt water to satiate his burning thirst. It doesn’t work. Second, notice that Dante calls Paolo and Francesca “weary souls,” an apt description for the ones who have traded in reason for unbridled passion that neither satisfies nor consoles. Third, the whirlwind wherein Francesca and Paolo are forced to eternally look upon the shade of the other’s body serves as a mutual reminder of their sin. When we sin sexually with another, we are not loving the other, we are using the other. This is particularly evident in pornography where the user treats the other, not as a person with intrinsic dignity, or even with a mind of her own, but as a sex object. (Read more.)

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