Here is the answer and explanation to the question Why is Dante moved to tears after Francesca’s description of love, and why does he finally fall “as a dead body falls” after her personal…
Why is Dante moved to tears after Francesca’s description of love, and why does he finally fall “as a dead body falls” after her personal account of her intimate relationship with Paolo?
This scene will come up again later in The Divine Comedy as Beatrice chides Dante for his behavior. But as to to this particular episode, while traveling through hell, Dante meets the doomed lovers Francesca and Paolo. They are in hell because of their unreasoned, animalistic lust.
Dante asks Francesca what caused her to fall into the devil’s trap and end up in hell. She explains, disingenuously, that she and Paolo were innocently reading a romance about Lancelot and saw how love had “mastered” him through a kiss. Inspired and moved by this story, they too kissed. One thing led to another as their passion bloomed and took control of them. As a result of putting the carnal ahead of the spiritual, they both ended up in hell.
Francesca tells her story so well, and Paolo weeps so “piteously” that Dante is taken in. His emotions and sympathy for the couple—and as Beatrice will later say to him, his own sense of lust—so overtakes him that he identifies very strongly with their plight. This causes him to reel and to faint. The last line of the canto is telling:
As a corpse might fall, to the dead floor of Hell.
In other words, by identifying and sympathizing so powerfully with the sin of lust, Dante is showing his own fallen nature—he metaphorically “fall[s]” like a corpse into hell himself by failing to recognize that the kind of carnal, animal lust for each other’s bodies that Francesca and Paolo indulged in is a sin that should repulse him.
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