Dante's Inferno Irony Analysis

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Dante Alighieri, as you know, was a religious Italian poet during the late middle ages who wrote on of the most famous poems of all time: Dante’s The Inferno. In The Inferno, like many of Dante’s other poems, he uses an array of literary devices that give his poems more depth and make a specific point to the reader. One of the many literary devices that Dante utilizes throughout the Inferno is irony. Dante uses irony in two ways in the Inferno; first to illustrate to readers that what you do in life comes full circle and haunts you in hell. The second way Dante uses irony in this poem is in specific characters Dante encounters in hell to add some comedy to the poem. Both forms of irony, however, serve the purpose of touching the reader and…show more content…
This usage of irony is used in certain characters in hell and it often has to do with why they are in hell. Furthermore, the irony is portrayed in the stories that the sinners tell Dante about how they wound up in hell. One example from the poem that shows this irony come from canto V where Dante and Virgil talk to Francesca and Paolo who tell them their story about how they wound up in hell. Dante recounts their story, “On a day for dalliance we read the rhyme of Lancelot, how love had mastered him. We were alone with innocence and dim time. Pause after pause that high old story drew our eyes together while we blushed and paled; but it was one soft passage overthrew our caution and our hearts. For when we read how her fond smile was kissed by such a lover, he who is one with me alive and dead breathed on my lips the tremor of his kiss. That book, and he who wrote it, was a pander. That day we read no further.”(Dante 39-40). In this passage, Dante recounts the story of how Francesca and Paolo (Francesca’s brother-in-law) read a book and fall in love. Shortly thereafter, both of them are killed by the husband and they end up in hell. In Christine Perkell’s, Irony in the Underworlds of Dante and Virgil: Readings of Francesca and Palinurus Author(s): Christine Perkell, Perkell exclaims, “ To summarize: As Francesca tells her story, she inadvertently - ironically - reveals thè justice of God's judgment in placing her in Inferno. She fails to confess; she fails to take responsibility as a moral Christian agent; she fails to see herself or her sin as God sees her and it.” Perkell sees the irony in Francesca’s story just as Dante intended it to be. What is ironic about Francesca’s story is that while she tries to make Dante feel pity for her, she reveals to Dante the truth as to why she is in hell and the
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