An Interpretation of Dante's Inferno through Neil Gaiman's Sandman

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Dante Alighieri's Inferno is one of the classic works of Western Literature. Like all great works, it is a corner stone for that which follows. One such work is Neil Gaiman's Sandman, which takes Dante's concept of Hell and contorts and plays with it to an almost absurd degree. At first glance the product appears to be extremely different. In actuality it is a hidden portal to a new meaning of Dante's Inferno.

Dante the pilgrim wakes up in the Dark Wood of Error without knowing how he got there. He tries to get to the Mount of Joy, but cannot, as the Leopard of Malice and Fraud, the Lion of Violence and Ambition, and the She-Wolf of Incontinence guard it. He cannot get passed them, so Beatrice, Dante's love, sends Virgil, who
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As Dante descends through each circle, he witnesses the horrible torture of countless souls, each punishment harsher than the last. Slowly, through taking in so much pain, Dante becomes callous towards their suffering. Once he understands that the sinners deserve their punishment, he is then ready to leave Hell and enter purgatory.

There are a couple incongruities within the text. One problem is the question of who is speaking, Dante the Poet, or Dante the Pilgrim. Many times it is hard to differentiate between the two. It is not apparent whether Dante the poet actually agrees with the conclusions of Dante the pilgrim. Perhaps Dante, before writing this work, recognized the error of his ways and corrected them. Then this work would be a metaphorical autobiography of how he came to the light. However, it is hard to imagine that he seriously is condemning to Hell poets and characters from literature that he so obviously loves.

There are obvious hypocrisies in Dante's Hell that lead to the opinion that Dante was not serious. For example, like Virgil, Dante praises Rome to a ridiculous degree. Dante places Alexander the Great in Circle VII with the Violent Against Neighbors, yet he places Julius Caesar with the virtuous Pagans. Virgil, although he also praised Julius Caesar in the Aeneid when Aeneus was in the underworld, wrote that Aenius left through the Gate of Ivory, which is the gate that all lies go

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