Dante Essay

2632 words - 11 pages

Dante begins The Inferno by embarking on a journey to Hell with his poet guide, Virgil. Along the voyage, the reader gets a taste of the gruesome imagery and depictions of the punishments for the different levels of sinner. Throughout this journey Dante encounters many sinners whom he knew or knew of in the real world, and in the beginning the sinners wanted their name to be spread in the world when Dante got out of Hell. But, as Dante explored further and further into the underworld, the sinners got less and less enthusiastic about themselves, which eventually turned into outright shame among the sinners in the lower depths of hell. Dante uses over the top examples of punishments for sins committed and the differing levels of shame the sinners feel to cause the reader to reevaluate his or her own life in the context of religious wrongdoings. The over the top punishments and shame are needed in this work of art to relay the predominant meaning.
The intense and imaginative punishments Dante relays to the reader cause the reader to look at their life and think about the sins he or she has committed. The punishments for sin in The Inferno increase in severity with the greater the sin. In the vestibule of Hell, Dante come across the opportunists. They race round and round chasing a waving banner while constantly being stung with wasps and hornets that causes a constant flow of blood on the sinners’ bodies. Dante then encounters the sinners of limbo in circle one. Dante views these “virtuous pagans” as the least severe of the sins. “They did not worship God’s Trinity in fullest duty,” therefore the punishments for these sinners are that they have no hope (Dante, 28). This fits nicely for the story and the reader because it only seems natural for the least of the sins have a negligible punishment. Circle two, the sinners of lust, are the first encounter of the proper punishments of Hell. Here the sinners are swept about by a never-ending whirlwind. The punishment becomes greater with a greater sin. The third circle Dante come across the sinners of gluttony, whose punishment is lying half buried in fetid slush while Cerberus, the three headed dog feasts upon them. Circle four has the hoarders and the wasters whose punishment is pushing great weights at each other again and again. The wrathful and sullen are forever damned to the fifth circle. These sinners have two different sets of punishments. The wrathful attack one another in a foul slime while the sullen are buried in the Styx River. Circles one through five represent Upper Hell. As the reader can see, the punishments for these sins though bad they are, are amazingly better than the sins in Lower Hell. The purpose for Dante to have increasingly worse punishments for greater sin serves to motivate the reader to look at his or her own life and make changes to the sins they have committed and think about the punishment for a sin he or she is about to commit. While Dante does...

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