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Purgatory, Visionary Journey


This paper is a recreation of a visionary journey that was popular around the 14th century, with the protagonist specifically travelling to the realm of Purgatory. The story has the same tropes as other stories in their genre. Specifically, the protagonist is not fully dead when they enter the realm, they are explained the “rules” of this realm by an angelic guide, they witness others suffering before suffering themselves, and are then sent back to the physical world affected by their journey. The story itself is a tool to show how the living and the dead were linked, with prayers helping those suffering in the realm of Purgatory; specifically making it easier and faster for them to move from the temporary realm of Purgatory to the permanent realm of Heaven. As Purgatory is a very tricky realm to find a visual reference for, aside from Dante’s accepted mountain, this version of the middle realm is of my own making. While incorporating ideas found throughout past accounts, such as the idea of the level of suffering dependent on the level of sin and the fact that Heaven and Hell have an intense impact on the senses, a majority of this presentation of the landscape is original. The story clocks in at around five pages, focusing more on the journey through the realm and the explanations about how the afterlife works rather than the life the protagonist is living before the near-death state. Unlike characters who go to Hell, Purgatory is not so much about changing your ways as it is realizing your duty to your fellow man. Visits to Hell are about learning to be a better person, but visits to Purgatory are about learning how to help everyone else. I have demonstrated this fact by not having the protagonist decide to be a better person when they return for their journey, but have them focus on the fact that as soon as they get well, they decide that they will begin praying. Yes, they suffer at some point doing the story, but the general idea of these sorts of stories is that if you pray for the people suffering in Purgatory then once you die people will pray for you as well; similar to the idea of karma. The angelic guide takes time to explain this to the protagonist, and also the reader, and presents a visual representation of living prayers helping the dead in the form of colorful bubbles in an almost completely gray landscape. By using said visual representation the hope is to further drive home the connection between the living and the dead, something that was incredibly important to those that were living in such a highly religious time. Overall, this work focuses not only on the horror that occurs in the middle realm, but the general sense of hope that was associated with it. After all, Purgatory was specifically known as a temporary place, and the only way to go was upwards toward Heaven; it is a place of penance, not torture.