The Inferno provides a journey of Dante through hell with the guidance of an ancient Roman in the poem. Throughout the poem, hell is identified as a series of nine circles of troubles and misfortunes which are present in the world. It is the consequence of the people who have denied the attributes connected to spirituality and desire earthly pleasures and violence. The individuals who suffer in the circles have inflicted malice or fraud in the lives of other human beings. Dante’s Inferno describes in details the recognition and rejection of atrocities.
In the spring of 1300, along with the path of daily life, Dante finds himself alone in the dark, and he is lost. For him to survive this difficult and trying time, he has to go through several realms of the life after death, and the journey starts in hell. The entire journey transforms Dante, and He realizes that all the actions done on earth have their consequences. In the middle of his travel, Dante recognizes that he has gone astray from the actual route in a thick forest. This canto introduces the happenings of the entire comedy. The midway of life in this scenario represents 35 years.
The dark forest represents the sin that worldly individuals live in. However, despite the thick darkness, there is an illumination of the sun, and he appears at the mountain. There are three beasts, and they prevent his ascension upon the mountain. “There can, however, be no direct ascent past the beasts: the man who would escape them must go a longer and harder way” (Mandelbaum 1838). The creatures represent violence, malice, and incontinence. Dante realizes that he must change his nature and descend to Paradise. It is an illustration that it is not easy for the believers.
They have to hold firm to their faith during any tribulations to come out successful. Dante follows Virgil on the evening of good Friday. Virgil has been sent by the symbol of divine love. There are other prayers of compassion grace and contemplative life in a heavenly realm. The occurrences amaze Dante, and he is changed as the play shifts from one Canto to the other. In canto 3, there is a gate to hell which is always open. It has an inscription demanding that whoever enters to leave all hopes. There is an atmosphere of fear, but Dante has to adjust and gain strength.
Dante hears the laments of the individuals in torment. “As they sinned so are they punished. They took no ides. Therefore they are given no place” (Mandelbaum 1844). These are those people who neither did the right or wrong. The area is scary, but Dante through the help of Virgil gets through. In Canto 4 Dante wakes up to the sound of loud thunder, and he observes the surrounding to realize that he is in hell in the first circle, Limbo. Dante learns from Virgil that Christ celebrated the first fathers. In a second zone, there is a high dome of light.
A voice welcomes Virgil, and there is the appearance of intellects who invited Dante into their ranks thus transforming his identity They greet Virgil, and they make Dante a sixth in their company” (Mandelbaum 1847). In Canto 5, Dante views Paolo and Francesca swept together by the wind, and he asks for their love story. Dante is so stricken by compassion at their tragic tale that he swoons once again. The episode of the two is termed as Dante’s rejection of the tenets. Dante recovers and realizes that he is in the third circle. There is a complex contrapasso, and the gluttons receive condemnation from all five senses.
A particular shade questions if Dante knows him, but he does not. He was one well known for gluttony. Dante converses with the spirits, and Ciacco begs him to return his memory to the people’s minds. Dante learns that the lost souls will suffer adversely on the judgment day. “I see new torments and new souls in pain about me everywhere. Wherever I turn 5 away from grief, I turn to grief again. I am in the Third Circle of the torments”(Mandelbaum 1851). His mind continues to grow as he learns of what he did not know previously. The fourth circle has a figure called Pluto which guards it.
Those who deviated their attitude towards material goods receive punishment in the fourth circle. In this circle, indulgence has changed into a selfish appetite of other individuals. Virgil explains the nature of fortune who transforms nations from greatness to poverty in a short time. The wrathful are immersed in the muddy styx, wholly or partly. “The river Styx figures variously in classic mythology, but usually (and in later myths always) as a river of the Underworld. Dante, to heighten his symbolism, makes it a filthy marsh” (Mandelbaum 1855). Other sighs and makes the waters to bubble.
Dante witnessed all these occurrences which were symbolic. In Canto 8 Phlegyas has a vessel and comes to ick them up across the marsh. As they cross, Dante is rejected by the one who desires to witness a soul go through tribulations “As they are crossing, a muddy soul rises before them. It is Filippo Argenti, one of the Wrathful. Dante recognizes him despite the filth with which he is covered, and he berates”(Mandelbaum 1859). The sight of many demons leads to Dante’s increased fear. In Canto 9 Dante becomes unsure of his guide. He has not been in such a condition earlier. Within the vicinity of the city, Dante observes open tombs.
The hot flames can easily be observed from their location. Dante learned that the individuals who committed wrongs on earth were destined to die in the flames and torment. “Turn around. What are you doing? Look there: it is Farinata rising from the flames. From the waist up his shade will be made clear”(Mandelbaum 1861). Virgil and Dante uncover the coffins in the sixth circle. On judgment day, Dante learned that the coffins would be locked from the inside with the bodies and souls. Dante realizes that Farinata can foresee the future while Calvanti has no idea of the present. With surprise that Farinata can foresee the future, but that Cavalcanti oes not know whether his son is presently dead or alive. Farinata” (Mandelbaum 1868).
The two poets, Dante and Virgil, get to the edge of the sixth circle. There is an irritating stench, and they have to stop by a coffin and get used to the smell. Dante is strong, and he does not worry about anything that he sees. Virgil explains to Dante on how the hell is organized. There is a circle for violent sinners and two for sinners of fraud. “Malice is the sin most hated by God. And the aim of malice is to injure others whether by fraud or violence” (Mandelbaum 1869).
Dante wonders why usury is a form of violence against God. Dante continues to learn new things and their representation. There is a river of boiling blood which Virgil asks Dante to observe. The river was used as a punishment for those who wrong their neighbors. Centaurs keep the sinners at their respective levels in the boiling blood. Dante recognizes the presence of the boiling blood. It is a means of dealing with the offenders. “As they wallowed in blood during their lives, so they are immersed in the boiling blood forever, each according to the degree of his guilt” (Mandelbaum 1871).
The two follow a trange forest with the nesting harpies. Harpies represent fearful creatures with the upper part resembling males and females and the bodies resembling birds. “The souls of the Suicides are encased in thorny trees whose leaves are eaten by the odious Harpies”(Mendalbaum 1875). Dante breaks a branch, and there are voices of people mixed with blood. Dante realizes that it was originally a man and it revealed its name. This is the seventh circle, and there are naked souls chased by hungry black bitches. Dante understands a lot of things that he could not have known if not in the spiritual being.
Due to the passion for his homeland, Dante reinstates the different leaves. The shade suffers injustice due to other people’s faults. Dante desires to know about an individual who does not obey the rain of fire. At this point, they are in the third circle and continue walking on the burning sand at the edge of the forest. “The symbolism of the burning plain is apparently centered in sterility (the desert image) and wrath (the fire image)” (Mandelbaum 1877). Dante and Virgil are protected by the masses of the boiling river which extinguishes the fire flakes that are visible.
Dante gets into a conversation with Brunetto, and the two get into a pleasant conversation. He predicts to Dante his eventual success and the problems that he will encounter due to the lack of appreciation of the Fiesolan beasts. “Let the beasts of Fiesole devour their get like sows, but never let them touch the plant, if among their rankness any springs up yet” (Mandelbaum 1879). As Dante and Virgil walk, they come across another group of sodomites. Three of them approach Dante, and they want to know whether courtesy abides in Florence. He cries when he remembers of the arrogance in the land.
The question deeply touched Dante. “The sinners ask for news of Florence, and Dante replies with a passionate lament for her present degradation”(Mandelbaum 1885). Dante identifies the usurers on the burning sand crying, but he does not recognize any of them. Each has a purse with a unique color. Dante and vigil realize that they are in the eighth circle all made using a grey stone. There are concentric ridges in the circle. They pass through the region, and Dante identifies one of the wrongdoers. There are several groups of sinners with one of them being the seducers. “The panderers and seducers.
These make two files, one along either bank of the ditch, and are driven at an endless fast walk by horned demons who hurry them along with great lashes” (Mandelbaum 1889). Dante learns that the flatterers receive punishment in this circle. His mind understands the different wrongs and the implications of committing them. Dante learns of the adulterous popes in the eighth circle third ditch. There are so many hidden sinners in the earth whom we do not prosecute. Dante understood that everyone is a sinner, but some people like popes do not look like sinners. Their actions in the dark follow them beyond the grave.
Dante rebukes the popes and cross over to the fourth ditch. In that location, individuals are crying, and it is quiet. These are people who looked so much into the future, and they have to turn their heads backward. “Who moved about the circle of the pit at about the pace of a litany procession. Silent and weeping, they wound round and round it” (Mandelbaum 1893). Many souls have received punishment here. In the fifth ditch, there is barratry which is the buying and selling of governing offices. Virgil talks to one of them, and he claims that it is God’s will for him to show the difficult way to another.
Dan is worried about the demons, but Virgil helps him to calm down. “To protect Dante from their wrath, Virgil hides him behind some jagged rocks and goes ahead alone to negotiate with the demons”(Mandelbaum 1895). Dante spent a substantial amount of time scrutinizing the signal given to him. Dante continues with his interaction with the demons. He knows the names of the devil. Dante’s aim is to view all the changes in the area. The escape of one devil triggers the remaining ones to fight. Dante is moved by the scene in the ninth ditch. Dante keeps on observing the dead souls as he expects to view one of his family members.
One person below them made signaled and heard his name called. He was Dante’s cousin who was murdered and not vindicated by any of the family members. Dante recalls occurrences relating to insanity. Athamas becomes crazy, and his wife appears as a lioness. Dante understands other situations of sinners who wrongly accused God’s people of sin. “Master Adam identifies two spirits lying beside him as Potiphar’s wife” (Mandelbaum 1926). Throughout the play, Dante progresses without fear and gaining an understanding of every occurrence. He can recount the activities and tell all the processes that happened in his inferno