Sinner's Punishment In Hell essay example

1,069 words
Dante's Inferno As the reader engages on his travels through Dante Alighieri's Inferno, he is introduced to Dante's imaginative and meticulous visualization of a plunge into the darkness of hell. Throughout this vigorous voyage, Virgil, a late poet who now resides in Limbo, acts as Dante's guide as he steers Dante with protection through the world of sin. During their journey, they encounter a assortment of sinners and are introduced to the unbearable sufferings and torments these souls must now endure in their after life. From each ring of hell the evolution from minor sins to the most essential sins deteriorates into each class of sinners and the torture they must undergo.

Over and over, a sinner's punishment in hell is in direct relation to his sin, and thus is both fair and symbolic of his wrongdoing on earth. As the poem commences, justice and the symbolic meaning of the Opportunists are introduced in Canto when Dante and Virgil enter the Vestibule. Now, the Opportunists must chase demons carrying black flags that represent their uncertainty between good and evil. Because of their wavering manner regarding decisions, wasps are now stinging them into action, as they run upon worms and maggots, which symbolize the justice now being achieved due to their indecisiveness. In the Vestibule, the reader experiences their first glimpse of this justice when he encounters those who. ".. were not faithful to God, but were for themselves" ( . 38-39).

The souls who had remained unsure between their commitment to good and evil are now restricted to the most superficial layer of Hell justifying Heaven and Hell's rejection of them. Dante develops the idea that Hell was created to see that sin is ultimately punished, and that goodness and morality are acclaimed. As Dante continues, he comes upon the Gluttonous, whose justice is now being served by being forced to lie in filth and excrement for eternity. This symbolizes the profligate attitude they once had, as they pursued pleasure to filthy excess in life. Their just punishment is displayed and symbolized as Virgil comes upon the residence of the Gluttonous, who lead him into the third circle of Hell which is guarded by Cerberus, the three - headed dog.

Dante is overwhelmed by a terrible smell that fills the air and. ".. none is so disgusting" as one could imagine (VI. 48). The Gluttonous inhabit this putrid environment as a result of the overindulgence of drinking and eating during their life on earth. As a result of their animal like behavior and filthy attitude, justice is served as Cerberus drools over them as they had once drooled over food during their life.

Once again the punishment coincides appropriately with the sinners' wrongdoings on earth, which they must now endure in Hell. Continually the journey progresses as they arrive to the Seventh Circle of Hell, where the Suicides' justice is now being fulfilled. Just as the Suicides imposed pain upon themselves symbolically the Harpies inflict pain upon them. In the Second Ring of the Seventh Circle, Virgil and Dante arrive upon a mysterious forest full of dark and contorted trees representing the lost souls of those who had committed violence against them. The quiet unheard voices who thought they. ".. could flee disdain through death" are now unadorned trees that can only speak when they bleed as the Harpies force pain upon them (X. 71). After their murderous acts and declaration of not wanting their bodies, it is only fair that they are never to obtain their righteous bodies due to their personal decision to destroy themselves.

Yet again, Dante's reoccurring theme of justice in the afterlife is being served as the astrologers and magicians, who once foreshadowed the future, now have to see the true symbolic meaning after it has passed them. As Dante's descent deepens, he notices the sinners in the Fourth Pouch of the Eighth Circle as they. ".. appeared marvelously distorted from the chin to the beginning of the chest / for toward their reins their face was turned... because they were deprived of looking forward" (XX. 3-4). Virgil explains that these are the astrologers, magicians and fortunetellers who used unholy powers to see ahead into the future. Ironically, their heads are turned backwards so they may see life only after it has passed. Once more their punishment corresponds allegorically with their sin committed on earth because the astrologers desire to anticipate the future is now being punished with their heads ironically being turned backwards so they may only see things as they pass.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing sinners is the Lustful, who justice is served by being whipped around frantically which symbolizes their lustful attitudes of throwing themselves into immoral sexual behavior. After passing by Minos, the judge of the dead, the number of times Minos' tail is wrapped about his body indicates the number of circles the soul must descend to find its permanent place. Dante thinks to himself", I understood that to this torment were damned the carnal sinners / who subjected their reason to their lust" (V 37-39). Just as the punishments were administered in the previous circles, the punishments here are compatible in grotesque suitability with the sins themselves. Justice is now being completed as they are whipped around in whirlwinds, which symbolizes the infatuation with the enticement of the flesh in life.

Moreover, the Lustful sinners are tortured in the darkness of the storm where most of their lustful acts occurred. Lastly, because they could not control their emotions inside, storms outside now penetrate their bodies. All these punishments are justified to the sinners' punishments because they are equivalent with their wrongdoings. Dante exemplifies an inventive association with the spirit's sin on earth and the punishment placed upon them in Hell.

Dante's usage of imagery and symbolism helps to show the pivotal theme of the precision of God's integrity. As a result, the reader is led to conclude that the Inferno takes a plot line of an allegorical and emblematic approach to matching each sinner's punishment in hell specific and impartial, which furthers the theme of divine justice that is used so prominently throughout the poem.