Meg (megkips) wrote in fm_alchemist,

FMA/Divine Comedy Metaphor: Past 'The Inferno'

Warning: Spoilers for both The Divine Comedy and FMA. Also, this may get confusing because of conflicting Dantes.

I’ve been flipping through the community’s archives for several days, generally amusing myself, and have throughly enjoyed reading people’s thoughts on the series and it’s connection to outside sources and different interpretations of the themes presented throughout the series, as well as speculation to the symbolism found within the series. One item that particularly intrigued me was the idea that the story of Fullmetal Alchemist was akin to the story of The Inferno, the first half of the divine comedy. Also, the discussion of the
homonucli being opposite of what they were in life really got me thinking.

Although the idea of FMA being similar to The Inferno is a good idea in theory, I believe the series relates more to the overall Divine Comedy in which The Inferno is only one third of.   But it helps to go through the series and the poem carefully.  Let’s begin this analysis by looking at Dante’s Inferno, the first third of The Divine Comedy.

The Inferno begins with the pilgrim Dante wandering in a dark wood when he is attacked by three beasts; a panther, a lion and a she-wolf. These animals represent Lust, Pride, and Avarice.  This is significant because in the first several episodes of FMA we encounter Lust in Lior, and of course Pride in Central. However, their current motivation for being interested in Edward are unknown at this point in time to both Edward and the audience. However, the beginning of both Fullmetal Alchemist and The Inferno are similar in many ways.


Having Lust, and Gluttony and appear in the first part of the series is extremely significant because of the fact that in Dante’s map of hell, circles 2 , and 3 are reserved from the lustful, and the gluttonous respectively.  But what of circle one?  The first circle of Hell is reserved for Ignorance, those that lived virtuously, but didn’t believe in God. We get a good insight about ignorance during episode three, which reveals how Edward and Alphonse were raised, how attached they were to their mother, and the blind ignorance that they showed when they attempted to resurrect their mother. So far, we have The Inferno beginning during the Elric Brother’s childhood.   To me, The Inferno part of the brothers’ trials has already occurred.  We know of their sin, it’s now a matter of repenting.

So then, logically, the majority of the shows’ episodes would be not The Inferno but The Purgatorio, the second part of the Divine Comedy.
To begin the passage into Purgatory one must first cross the mouth of the Tiber River. However, before that occurs, reeds are tied around the person’s waist to symbolize humility. If we consider the beginning of the Elric Brother’s journey towards repentance and through purgatory to begin upon Ed entering the military, then traveling to Central and taking the state alchemy exam would be the “tying of the reeds” so to speak. Then begins the climb up Purgatory’s mountain, or the biggest chunk of the series if you will.

Here I would like to make two notes. The first note is from my readings of alchemical texts, in which one states:

“Alchemy is an ancient path of spiritual purification and transformation; the expansion of consciousness and the development of insight and intuition through images. Alchemy is steeped in mysticism and mystery. It presents to the initiate a system of eternal, dreamlike, esoteric symbols that have the power to alter consciousness and connect the human soul to the Divine.”

Applying the idea of The Divine Comedy and the fact that it is a spiritual journey of sorts, this begins to make even more sense. The second note is this idea that the homunculi are opposite of what they were in life. In The Purgatorio, the sinners in the mountain’s different planes are to do the opposite of what they did in life. (See this thread for information concerning the homunculi’s lives vs. how they are in the series.)

At the very end of The Purgatorio, Dante enters the mortal paradise (Eden), and then transcends his sins into another realm. (Heaven.) His guide, Virgil, disappears. It’s important to remember that Virgil has been beside Dante from The Inferno, and his departure shocks and upsets to Dante. We know what happens at the end of the series to Ed, and that Heaven is most certainly not on the other side of the gate. However, it makes you wonder who exactly is representing “Virgil” here. I would say Al, but Al is not a guide in the series, as he shares in his brother’s sin and is equally guilty. I would say Alchemy itself, as on the other side of the gate, Alchemy is not used. We also know that it was Alchemy that has guided Ed the whole way through this journey.

Very well then, we have nearly completed our metaphor. Our Inferno has already occurred, and is contained in a series of flashbacks; our Purgatorio is the series itself. So then where is Paradiso? My best guess would be the movie, as Shambala is indeed another word for “paradise”.


  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded