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Dante’s Interpretation of Hell in The Divine Comedy

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Religion is and has always been a prominent portion of individuals lives. The bible and other religious text guide follower’s on how to avoid the suffering of Hell. In The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, produces a physical interpretation of Hell and the result of each sinner would receive because of their sins. Dante the main character endures the horrid, twisted, and grotesque, depths of Hell. Unlike any other allegory of Hell, Dante’s Inferno portrays a vivid view to the reader of an in depth journey into hell itself; Along with this insightful literary work, brings historical context where Alighieri brings an introspective outlook to personal life, thoughts and opinions, and people, from Alighieri’s life into this poem. Alighieri’s common themes that occur throughout the story is that the punishment fits the crime. Virgil shows Dante through their journey, unveils the consequences for each of the sinners that are in Hell. Dante learns the value of personal development, to continuously learn from past mistakes in order to correct his current life to enhance his future.

Through the entire comedy Dante shows signs a personal growth and development conquering fears that he would not have been able to face before. Dante found himself alone in the woods and he became scared for his life “I had become so sleepy at the moment when I first strayed, leaving the path of truth; but when I found myself at the foot of a hill, at the edge of the wood’s beginning, down in the valley, where I first felt my heart plunged deep in fear”. Dante through the Comedy faints often because of his fear’s which is his weakness. Some of Dante’s character traits change as his mind matures, he recognizes the justice carried out by God, from the beginning until the end Canto, but his fear does not subside. “One ought to be afraid of nothing other than things possessed of power to do us harm, but things innocuous need not be feared”. Dante brings to life pain and suffering in Hell, “pains are physical; suffering is emotional”. Alcorn explains that in The Divine Comedy the pain and suffering that the damned souls experience are both physical and emotional. “In Hell Every pain is less than maximal because the damned souls lack their worldly bodies (vehicles for physical pain) and take the aerial for of virtual bodies. An implication is that pain in Hell is less saturated than is suffering. However, this state is temporary; in the fullness of time, at the Last Judgment, souls will regain their real bodies and thereby perfect their pain”. Alcorn also shows that the virtual bodies feel less physical pain then alive human bodies. “Emotional suffering is partly about pain; for example, sinners dread the Last Judgment and the maximal pain that they will then forever experience as re-embodied souls”. The constant dread is the physiological torment used on the damned souls that even though it’s bad now and they will never rise up and be accepted by God; already at a lowest low, that it can become even worse than where they are now.

In Hell, some of the most serious crimes are those of betrayal. “In the levels they have already passed through, the sins or crimes are mostly those of passion or weakness; in the second circle, for example, they encountered the adulterers Paolo and Francesca, who had been overcome by passion”(Paul). Paul explains that some crimes have different weight in terms of where the sinner ends up in Hell. Weakness plays a part in this whole story where Dante finds himself weakened by seeing some of these punishments and faints quite often. It is odd to think that crimes of violence are not as far down as other crimes like betrayal. Paul explains, “Crimes of betrayal were the most serious not only because they required the most deliberate exercise of free will, but also because they did the most damage to the ethical net of obligations in society; conversely, violence seemed neither much out of the ordinary nor extraordinarily to be condemned”(Paul).

Through the story, Dante writes about Hell he produces prolific detail of punishments of the sinners, and vividly describes events to portray the true consequences of the convicted. “Before me nothing but eternal things were made, and I shall last eternally. Abandon every hope, all you who enter”. The first thing that Dante reads before he enters Hell, showing that true first step and how serious this is becoming. According to Dante, there are a various levels in hell The first level in Hell is called Limbo. All of the people who die before being baptized those who do not accept any form of Christianity into their life, are condemned for the rest of eternity in limbo. This levels purpose are for the philosophers who do not associate themselves with any religion are going to this limbo for eternity.

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Dante’s Interpretation Of Hell In The Divine Comedy. (2019, August 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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