Often, we cannot see the good until we have experienced the bad. Dante Alighieri, a poet who makes himself the main character in his Divine Comedy, finds himself lost in a dark wood at the start of The Inferno. Though he sees a safe path out of the wood towards an alluring light, he is forced to take an alternate route through an even darker place. As the ending of the pilgrim Dante’s voyage is bright and hopeful, Alighieri the poet aims to encourage even the most sinful Christians to hope for a successful end. Thus, Dante the pilgrim goes to hell in The Inferno to better understand the nature of sin and its consequences in order to move closer to salvation; his journey an allegory representing that of the repenting Christian soul.
Both Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dante’s Inferno explore the reasons for and results of human suffering. Both works postulate that human suffering comes as a result of choices that are made. That statement is not only applicable to the characters in each of the works, but also to the readers. The Inferno and King Lear speak universal truths about the human condition: that suffering is inevitable and unavoidable. While both King Lear and the Inferno concentrate on the admonitions and lamentations of human suffering, there is one key difference between the works: the Inferno has an aspect of hope that is not present in King Lear.
Dante’s work Inferno is a vivid walkthrough the depths of hell and invokes much imagery, contemplation and feeling. Dante’s work beautifully constructs a full sensory depiction of hell and the souls he encounters along the journey. In many instances within the work the reader arrives at a crossroads for interpretation and discussion. Canto XI offers one such crux in which Dante asks the question of why there is a separation between the upper levels of hell and the lower levels of hell. By discussing the text, examining its implications and interpretations, conclusions can be drawn about why there is delineation between the upper and lower levels and the rationale behind the separation.
Dante's Inferno explores the nature of human suffering through a precautionary light. As Dante and Virgil move through the Inferno, Dante sees what has become of people who overindulged in things such as, lust, gluttony, violence, and bribery. Few of the punishments described in the Inferno have a direct correlation to the sin that the souls committed while they were living. Rather, they are a representation of what happens when we commit those crimes against ourselves and others. We create hells for not only ourselves, but those who we have sinned against. These hells are almost impossible to come back from as most of these sins cannot be taken back or undone. Some of the punishments that were clear representations were the punishments of
Central to “Inferno” is the concept of contrapasso, the idea that the punishment one experiences in Hell is the reversal of one’s sin on earth: gluttons are forced to consume filth against their will; prophets and soothsayers have their bodies disfigured to turn their heads backwards; adulterers are forever forced to couple with their lovers; it is a poetic, medieval take on Exodus’s reciprocal punishment of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (King James Bible, Exodus 21:24). Within Canto XIII Dante meets those who have committed suicide: those that have taken their lives are “reborn” into bleeding, deformed trees upon which harpies feed and onto which harpies nest. There they remain forever, subject to all forms of abuse--and completely unable to abuse themselves again (as they did in life). While Dante’s intent may be to illustrate the justice of God’s punishment for sins done on earth, the forest of suicides found in Canto XIII questions the punishments delivered by God through the words and actions of the unfortunate souls found in this level, the words of our guide, Virgil, and our the words of our protagonist, Dante.
limbo, 2. lust, 3. gluttony, 4. greed, 5. anger, 6. heresy, 7. violence, 8. fraud, and 9. treachery. Dante journeys through hells layers and as he gets closer to the center of hell, the sins, and their penalties get crueler. In the first level, limbo, all the individuals who died before becoming Christians reside, including famous philosophers Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. After limb, arrives the part of hell which is comprised of sins of the flesh: greed, anger, gluttony, and lust. In the last remaining circles, Dante witnesses’ souls that have committed severer sins such as; violence against God, fraud, false prophets, violent against nature, thieves, and hypocrites. The punishments for these sins are extremely painful, including souls being submerged in boiling blood and fire. The last circle of hell is treachery. This round is separated into four compartments corresponding to the gravity of their sins and all of the sould are stuck in the frozen
Circle one of Hell is reserved for those whose only crime is living before Christianity and therefore not worshipping God as is deemed proper by God. These shades are the unbaptised infants and virtuous pagans who came before Christ. Virgil explains the sin in lines 34-39:
In St. Augustine’s Confessions and Dante’s Inferno, the central characters in their respective narratives are presented a message from which induces distinct reactions. More importantly, their reactions are reflections of their perspective concerning the Christian outlook
In The Inferno, Dante explores the ideas of Good and Evil. He expands on the possibilities of life and death, and he makes clear that consequences follow actions. Like a small generator moving a small wheel, Dante uses a single character to move through the entire of Hell's eternity. Yet, like a clock, that small wheel is pivotal in turning many, many others. This single character, Dante himself, reveals the most important abstract meaning in himself: A message to man; a warning about mankind's destiny. Through his adventures, Dante is able to reveal many global concepts of good and evil in humanity.
Dante’s Inferno is an epic poem that is clearly centered on his hate for Pope Boniface VIII. Dante’s “circles of hell” described so vividly in his poem are the result of Dante’s angst toward Boniface as he was once on top of the world until Boniface exiled him only because of his political opinions. Although, he does not clearly name Boniface in the epic he makes sure to include him in five obscure allusions. The first instance alludes to the incumbent pope before Boniface, Pope Celestine V, as the one “who made the great refusal” in the circle of neutrals; as he allowed Boniface to plant seeds of doubt in the months before he suddenly and unexpectedly resigned, leaving Boniface the Pope. The second allusion would place Boniface perfectly in the eighth circle, sixth pouch as the fraudulent sinner he was to prey on Celestine with his utter gift of fraudulent gab to gain a political position of power. The third, fourth, and fifth instances all point to his questionable practice of selling indulgences or absolution. So, therefore, just because he cannot directly mention Boniface in his epic due to him still being alive during the time of his writing, he still manages to make it a point to let him know there is a place for him in Hell.
In Dante's view the next circle of sin consists of acts of fraud. He classifies these sinners as seducers and panderers, flatterers, simoniacs, fortune tellers, grafters, hypocrites, thieves, evil counselors, sowers of discord, and counterfeiters or falsifiers. These are the souls who in life betrayed the confidence of another. They preyed on other people solely for gain and knowingly deceived without concern for their victims' psyche or physical being.
As Dante explores the Second Circle of Hell, he is horrified by the punishments that the sinners must suffer through. When he hears the story of Francesca and Paolo’s lustful actions, Dante relates deeply to their stuggles because he reflects on his own sins and believes he may be cast to a similar fate in the afterlife. Dante reacts to the story when he says, “I fainted, as if I had met my death. / And then I fell as a dead body falls” (5.142-143). Dante faints from compassion for the two sinners’ pitiful story. Dante struggles to grasp the wrongdoing these people have participated in to be placed in Hell because he continues to search for the noble qualities in everyone. On the one hand, Dante believes God’s punishment for the lustful sinners, relentless winds and storms, is unethical. On the other hand, this belief is naive because it is known that all of God’s punishments are just. The lustful are condemned to an eternity in Hell because they did not care about their actions on Earth, so the raging storm that torments them is not concerned with what is in its path. Dante is not only attempting to discover the possible consequences of his own actions, but also learning to trust in God’s judgement.
In The Inferno, Dante descends through the nine circles of Hell, encountering increasingly serious sins, most of which are crimes. The levels of Hell can be interpreted as a gradation of crimes, with penalties in proportion to their relative gravity of sin. While crimes are transgressions against human law, Dante’s Christian orthodox ambitions translate the treatment of these seemingly earthly crimes as sins, transgressions against divine law. For the purposes of this paper, the two terms can be used interchangeably because Dante’s perception of crimes on Earth is in parallel to the punishment of those crimes as sins in Hell. For Dante, the most punishable sins are those of betrayal. With a lucid examination of Dante’s political
The remaining four circles of hell are separated from the previous five, in that they are considered the lower parts of hell, where Dante must pass through the walls of the city, Dis. The sixth circle of hell are where the souls of the heretics are found, and burning in their open graves is the way they suffer for the rest of eternity. The seventh circle of hell is where the souls of the violent reside. This circle of hell is separated into three different sections, representing the 3 different types of violence separated by rings; 1) violence against neighbors, 2) violence against oneself, and 3) violence against God. The outer ring, those who commit violence against their neighbors, are punished by being submerged into the Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood. Anyone who tries to leave have arrows shot at them by Centaurs. Those in the middle rings who committed violence against themselves, or suicide, are punished by being turned into trees and bushes, in which harpies feed upon them. The trees can only talk when they have their branches ripped off. The middle ring also houses profligates, or those who destroyed their lives by recklessly spending money. Their punishment is to eternally run away from dogs who try to maul
In Dante’s Inferno, we followed Dante as he narrates his decent and observations of hell. A wonderful part of that depiction is his descriptions of the creative yet cruel punishments that each of the different sinners receive. This story is an integral part of literary history, and even if I were to have the imagination and ability of Dante Alighieri, I don’t believe I would change this tried and true version known universally.