Dante's The Inferno Essay

939 words - 4 pages

The Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's poem, the "Divine Comedy", which chronicles Dante's journey to God, and is made up of the "Inferno" (Hell), "Purgatorio" (Purgatory), and "Paradiso" (Paradise). In Dante's Inferno, Dante Alighieri, expresses his views on sin, the punishments of hell, and redemption. He does this through the main characters of Dante and Virgil. Dante is taken by Virgil on a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in order to teach him the nature of sin, its punishments, and the way to salvation. On this journey he fills a thirst for knowledge, in a quest to regain his soul, and to find his way back to god. Dante's inferno is " a record of his moral and spiritual experience of illumination, regeneration, and beatitude" (Norton 1012).

In "Dante's Inferno" Dante divides hell into different sections, each having a different punishment. He allocates each sin to a different level, depending on the severity of the sin committed. Dante's Hell is shaped like a funnel that extends all the way to the center of the earth. It is situated underneath the city of Jerusalem, which is at the center of the northern hemisphere. Opposite Jerusalem, at the center of the southern hemisphere is the mountain of Purgatory. Lucifer is stuck at the bottom of Hell, where he fell after the defeat in his rebellion against God. This funnel is composed of nine circles. The first circle is the widest and progressively, the ninth circle is the smallest. This ninth circle surrounds Lucifer. Each circle is reserved to a different class of sinners: Limbo, the first level of hell is located in "Ante-Hell", but those in Limbo are damned nonetheless. The rest of Dante's Hell can be categorized by Upper Hell and Lower Hell. Upper Hell, or The Incontinent, consists of five of the nine levels of hell those being: Lustfulness, the Gluttonous, the Avaricious and Prodigals, the Wrathful, and Heresy. Dante perceived these sins to be the lowest degree of sin. Dante believed that the punishment should fit the crime; he shows this in his reprimand of the Incontinents; "Across the marsh they see countless souls attacking one another in the foul slime. These are the Wrathful and the symbolism of there punishment is obvious" (Norton 1039). Lower Hell is divided into the sins of Violence and Fraud. Circle seven (Violence) is separated into three rounds: violence against their neighbors, violence against themselves, and violence against god and nature. Dante's belief that the punishment should fit the crime is further illustrated within circle seven with his punishment of those who committed suicide, "They who destroyed their own bodies are...

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