The people I have encountered during my first months at college have sometimes resembled the characters encountered by Dante Alighieri during his travels into the depths of Hell in the portion of his Divine Comedy known asThe Inferno.
Before you yell at me for making such a dramatic correlation between the blessing of college and the eternal damnation of hellfire, allow me to explain why I believe this to be an appropriate connection.
Some days when I leave the comfort of my secluded and restful dorm room, I cannot believe the state in which I find those around me. I have seen people eating breakfast at 1 PM wearing bathrobes, conversed with some whose sole desire is to earn a few hours of peaceful sleep, and observed a select few who "have it all together" and seem to know all that they ever could. This inevitably leads them to wonder why are we even at college?
These characters are odd, but not because the traits they possess are singular to them and no-one else. Nor do they resemble the characters of Dante's Inferno because they are sinful and condemned to eternal hellfire for their wickedness, rendering them beyond hope. They share qualities with those encountered by Dante in his Inferno because they oftentimes feel as if they are stuck in one of the dark circles of inescapable suffering.This feeling overtakes them at times, to the point that their inner doom manifests itself in their appearance, actions, and words- and this is common enough that my eye has picked up on it.
The most humorous example occurred during the first month of school when I witnessed someone in the cafeteria wearing a bathrobe. It wouldn't have been quite as shocking if it wasn't after one o'clock in the afternoon. I immediately thought, "wow, he must be having a rough time". Either that or "he must really not care about what people think about him". His appearance was an outward expression mirroring closely how he felt on the inside- drained of all energy.
Another striking example of the universal college struggle mirrors one presented with sarcasm in Dante's travels through hell. When he came across several figures who possessed high papal authority in the European world, the traveling Dante, not the author/narrator, was shocked. Condemned for their corruption, these figures appeared in their earthly lives, like the aforementioned students I've met here, to "have it all together". In reality, nobody here has it all together. This startling realization, first understood by Dante, is something I've observed on the regular at college.
Despite how controversial these comparisons may seem, I am hopeful that those who share in my discoveries can appreciate them for their simplicity and humor. In all honesty, there is much distinguishing the characters in Dante's Inferno from the insightful and capable students I've met at college. The small similarities I have noted hold almost no ground when one recognizes the ultimate distinction: God is present here, and I am sure He is absent from hell.