Linking Imbiancare to the Role of Beatrice in the Commedia


Throughout the Commedia, the phrase “enwhiten” (or imbiancare) emerges as an analogical phrase related to the concepts of heat, passion, the melting down of sinful desire, and the illuminating of one’s spirit. Further, each instance of imbiancare appears, directly or indirectly, with the figure of Beatrice, who as a source or proxy of divine brightness, supplies the Pilgrim with enlightenment.

The word for this brightening will be examined and the effect of “blanching” exhibited throughout its appearances in the poem. To begin, a technical, grammatical analysis of this word and its various linguistic forms will be given, then a detailed commentary (using multiple translations) of the each instance of the word will be followed, and finally, a synthesis of the meanings with an offering of more analysis and discussion will be presented. It will be demonstrated that throughout the Comedy, this blanching is connected not only to the central narrative of Dante’s progressive sanctification, but also to Bice’s direct or instrumental provision of illumination for his spiritual and emotional journey, within and without of the poem.