Dante's Divine Comedy - Symbolism in the Punishment of Sin in The Inferno

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The Symbolism in the Punishment of Sin in Dante's Inferno Inferno, the first part of Divina Commedia, or the Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri, is the story of a man's journey through Hell and the observance of punishments incurred as a result of the committance of sin. In all cases the severity of the punishment, and the punishment itself, has a direct correlation to the sin committed. The punishments are fitting in that they are symbolic of the actual sin; in other words, "They got what they wanted." (Literature of the Western World, p.1409) According to Dante, Hell has two divisions: Upper Hell, devoted to those who perpetrated sins of incontinence, and Lower Hell, devoted to those who perpetrated sins of malice. The…show more content…
They have no hope of death, and their blind life is so debased that they are envious of every other lot. The world does not grant them any fame; pity and justice alike disdain them. Eternal penalty for the sin of neutrality, of never taking a stand and risking the pain involved in showing one's true self, is to be exposed in totality and suffer deadly pain in perpetuity as evidenced in lines 64-66: These wretches, who had never really lived, were naked and stung constantly by hornets and wasps that were there. 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: ...they did not sin, but having merit was not enough, for they lacked baptism, which is a portal of the faith you hold; and if they lived before Christianity they did not worship God rightly; among such as these am I myself. and in lines 40-42, the penalization: For such defects, not for other faults are we lost, and afflicted only in that we live in longing without hope. The punishment here is ceaseless longing, longing without hope, for God's

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