Dante's Inferno And The Afterlife Essay

2336 words - 9 pages

For centuries humans have been drawing parallels to help explain or understand different concepts. These parallels, or allegories, tell a simple story and their purpose is to use another point of view to help guide individuals into the correct line of thought. “The only stable element in a literary work is its words, which if one knows the language in which it is written, have a meaning. The significance of that meaning is what may be called allegory.”(Bloomfield) As Bloomfield stated, it is only how we interpret the words in an allegory that matters, each person can interpreted it in a slightly different way and allegories are most often personalized by a reader. Dante’s Inferno allegory is present throughout the entire poem. From the dark wood to the depths of Dante’s hell he presents the different crimes committed in life as they could be punished in death.
One of the first punishments we observe comes from the fifth circle of Dante’s hell, the wrathful and the sullen, as the author expresses his thoughts of the fitting consequence with each sin. This portion of the text begins in the seventh canto and in it the punishment of those who lived in wrath are discussed, when Dante and Virgil first enter the circle they see a marsh containing people who endlessly beat upon each other the idea being that because they lived their lives in wrath they will live out their eternity with pure hatred for any soul they may encounter. Also addressed in this circle is the punishment for those who lived their life in a sullen manner, ignoring the goodness that the world around them contained. “‘Sullen were we in the air made sweet by the sun; in the glory or his shinning our hearts poured a bitter smoke. Sullen we begun; sullen we lie forever in this ditch.’ this litany they gargle in their throats as if they sang, but lacked the words and pitch.”(Inferno, canto VII, lines 121-126) The sullen must be buried under the marsh and forever chant the words of a mangled hymn to express how, in their lives, they hid from all things bright and beautiful and refused to accept their beauty, so in death they are refused the opportunity to ever see the bright and beautiful things of the world. “Writers use allegory to add different layers of meanings to their works. Allegory makes their stories and characters multidimensional, so that they stand for something larger in meaning than what they literally stand for. Allegory allows writers to put forward their moral and political point of views. A careful study of an allegorical piece of writing can give us an insight into writer’s mind as how he views the world and how he wishes the world to be.”(Bavota) This passage, like the “up on your feet” lines from this poem, works to motivate and to help learn the value of the world around them. It works, like the passage in canto twenty four, the uplift and to see a more positive side of the battles we may face in life.
Another example of Dante’s punishment is expressed in the...

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