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Dantes Inferno Symbolism Essay

1622 words - 7 pages

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri is a work of art in which symbolism plays a prevalent role. Whether it is in the punishments or the monsters in each circle, everything has a dual meaning. During the entire book there are seen thirty monsters and five hybrid creatures, each representing something different. Throughout the circles the readers view tortures that are the physical equivalent of their actions. Alighieri exposes societies misdeeds in an ingenious way that leaves the readers smirking with satisfaction at the justice.
In the first circle, those unbaptized wander around in a fog. This is a fitting punishment because the fog blinds them much like the absence of god blinds ...view middle of the document...

They are endlessly rained upon by filth and garbage. While standing in worms decomposing the aforesaid filth, Cerberus, the personification of gluttony, continuously barks at them. Cerberus personifies gluttony because he has red eyes and swollen belly and tears at gluttons with monstrous fangs and claws just as they tear each other down in order to get what they want. This is an appropriate sentence because indulgence is grotesque, ugly and wasteful.
In the fourth circle the readers find the hoarders and squanderers pushing massive stones against each other. They are trying to prove to the other that their way of spending money is the right way. Due to their imbalanced lifestyle they must forever toil against one another to provide balance. This is a fitting punishment because they are one the opposite end of the spectrum. In the fifth circle we see the wrathful and sullen. The wrathful fight in the mud along the bank of the river Styx nonstop. This is fitting because they could not contain their anger in life. The sullen are submerged in the black tar river, forever choking. This is also fitting because they never enjoyed their freedom when they could, now they never will. In the sixth circle the readers come upon the heretics who are locked in burning tombs. This is a suitable and ironic torture because fire is a symbol of gods love and consumes them in torment, for in life they went against god, so now they cannot escape is love.
In the three rings of the seventh circle the readers meet those who were violent. The first ring holds those who were violent against their neighbors. They boil in blood and, if they are deemed worthy, they are also shot with arrows. This is an appropriate penance because they spilled so much blood I life that they must now live in it. The second ring contains those who were violent against their self. The souls are turned into immobile trees that are pecked, ripped and overall tortured by harpies. The souls will never return to their bodies because they did not appreciate then in the first place. Harpies are important in this canto being as harpy translate literally as “snatcher”. Throughout history they were blamed for sudden disappearances, stealing souls of sleeping bodies, abducting tortured souls enroute to Tartarus (Source 2). Therefore the harpies are the perfect monsters to put in an area full of bodies that they can move around and do with as they please. In the third ring lie those who were violent against god. This ring is further divided into blasphemers, sodomites and those violent against art. The blasphemers are held on hot sand, the sodomites are both on the hot sand and rained upon by fire. Those who were violent against art however not only are forced to stand on hot sand while rained upon by fire but they must also have a heavy purse hang about their necks. In the third ring the readers find Geryon.
“He is the only triple hybrid that Dante and Virgil came across. The succession of...

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