Alighieri's Use of Allegory

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Every famous author has something that makes them “special” or “unique.” Some are great at personifying inanimate objects. While others, find strength in their use of metaphors. Through studying Dante Alighieri, there is one particular writing tool he utilizes often. The tool that he uses throughout the entire Divine Comedy is allegory. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation” (Merriam-Webster, 2013) The ways in which he uses allegory is inherent throughout the entire tale. In his book, The Inferno he describes Dante the Pilgrim’s descent into Hell and the different things he sees. There are a…show more content…
Fortune tellers and others who help predict the future are the people included in this canto. Canto 20, bolgia 4 includes this punishment. Sebastian Mahfood explains this punishment by stating: “The fortune tellers and diviners merely walk around their round (no demons are needed to lash them), but their necks are twisted backwards so that their eyes drop tears on their backsides. Having used unnatural powers to foresee events, they may only see what's behind them.” (Mahfood, 2005) These people literally had their heads on backwards. Alighieri describes when he states: “I saw that each of them was hideously distorted betweenj the top of the chest and the lines of the jaw, for the face was reversed on the neck, and they came on backwards, staring backwards at their loins, for to look before them was forbidden.” (pg. 175, lines 10-15) They were condemned to only see what’s behind them. Lastly, the use of allegory is imminent in Alighieri’s text The Inferno in which the betrayers of God are tortured. Contrary to popular belief, the center of Hell in his text was actually made of ice. And for these sinners, they were forced to the worst punishment. A. S. Kline describes this punishment in reference to Satan: “He chewed a sinner between his teeth, with every mouth, like a grinder, so, in that way, he kept three of them in torment. To the one in front, the biting was nothing compared to the tearing, since, at times, his back was left completely
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