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Research Papers on Dante's Inferno

Literature courses on World literature often discuss Dante's work. If you need assistance with writing a research paper on Dante's Inferno, Paper Masters can assign one of our professional literary writers to explicate the elements of the Inferno. Below, we give you a sample of how our writer's have explained the circles of hell in the Inferno.

Dante’s Inferno is the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy, written between 1308 and 1321. The word “Inferno” is Italian for “Hell,” and this part of the work describes the poet’s allegorical journey through the nine circles of Hell. On this journey he is guided by the Roman poet Virgil.

The poem opens with the poet lost in the woods, chased by three beasts, and falling into a deep place. Virgil, who tells Dante that he has been sent by his beloved, deceased Beatrice, rescues him. Dantes InfernoThe two thus begin their journey through Hell. Each circle is an allegory, frequently representing poetic justice. The first circle of Hell is Limbo, where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans reside. Here Dante meets Homer, Ovid, Cicero and many famous figures from antiquity.

Hell and Dante's Inferno

The second circle of Hell is Lust, where the souls of carnal sinners are blackened by an endless wind. In the third circle, Gluttony, a giant worm forces those condemned to lie in a foul mud. These individuals are unaware of their neighbors, indicative of the selfish nature of this sin. The fourth circle, greed, is home to many popes and cardinals, forced to push great weights with their chests.

Wrath, the fifth circle, has sinners fighting each other in the River Styx. Beyond this are the walls of Dis, which separate the deepest pits of Hell, where active (rather than passive) sinners are sent. Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery are the innermost circles of the Inferno.

The City of Dis serves as the gateway to the Nether Hell, separating those guilty of sin by passion from those guilty of calculated sin.  The Lizard King guides us through, to the steep cliff that drops into the sixth circle of Hell.  For Dante, this was the region of the heretic, trapped in a burning graveyard.  Heresy was a specific crime against Christianity, those who rejected specific teachings.  For a modern interpretation, let us condemn to the sixth circle all liars: lawyers and used car salesmen.  A special golden seat inscribed with the name “Johnny Cochran” sits waiting in the middle of the barren graveyard.

The seventh circle of Hell was the realm of the violent.  The 20th century has seen this circle moved down to level nine.  The modern seventh circle contains the souls of the extremists.  These are people who have espoused violence and intolerance in the name of some cause.  Klansmen, Nazis, militiamen, radical fundamentalists, everyone who was “just following orders” shall be condemned to rounded up, tied together, and then set on fire on a daily basis for all of eternity.
The eight circle of Hell contained ten canyons.  Dante called this the region of the Simply Fraudulent.  For brevity, the canyons and their offenses, along with an appropriate example, and their just punishment will be listed.  In some cases, the punishments envisioned by Dante seem appropriate.

  1. Thieves.  Whipped by Demons.
  2. Gigolos/Golddiggers (Anna Nicole Smith).  Certain parts of their anatomies (not the feet) are consumed by fire.
  3. The man who invented AVR (automatic voice response).  Unable to get a human response, this person must spend eternity on hold.
  4. Traitors.  Boiling tar.
  5. Advertisers. Deception at its highest, these souls are forever trapped trying to sell human excrement to each other.
  6. Pornographers (Larry Flynt, Hugh Heffner).  Disfigured by their sin, they are tied naked to posts and laughed at by their tormenting demons.
  7. Politicians (Richard Nixon).  Tied in front of a television, they are forced to watch Satan continually telling them that the heat is good for them, and that their taxes will be raised.
  8. Televangelists (Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts).  Simply knowing that they were wrong should be punishment enough.
  9. Drug Dealers.  Their bodies are cut up into small pieces, one at a time, for each life they destroyed.
  10.  Child Molesters.  These souls must drown in a pool of human excrement for all eternity.

Dante reserved the Ninth and final circle of Hell for the treacherous.  This is now where the violent have gone.  This circle is still divided into four regions, each with a different type of violent offender.  In Caina are those who were, for lack of a better term, mere killers.  Many Mafia figures, such as Al Capone, are damned here, frozen so that they must see their victims in paradise.  In Antenora are the terrorists, people who killed for a wrong cause.  The soldiers are frozen to their terrorist leader, stabbing each other in the back for all eternity.  In Ptolomea are the mass murderers: Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.  They are frozen in millions of ice picks, each one piercing their eyes.  In the final section of Hell, Judecca, closest to Satan, are the serial killers, Satan’s very children.  Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gayce, Jeffrey Dahmer, and their kind are frozen to Satan’s armpits.

This is a system of punishment based on an idea that there is a right and a wrong.  Many of the punishments are based on a personal moral code, but with the idea that gravity of sin deserves an equal gravity of punishment.  In order to accept this hierarchy, one must accept a notion of right and wrong, and of divine punishment for wrongdoers.

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