Punishment for the Sinners in The Inferno

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Dante begins The Inferno by embarking on a journey to Hell with his poet guide, Virgil. Along the voyage, the reader gets a taste of the gruesome imagery and depictions of the punishments for the different levels of sinner. Throughout this journey Dante encounters many sinners whom he knew or knew of in the real world, and in the beginning the sinners wanted their name to be spread in the world when Dante got out of Hell. But, as Dante explored further and further into the underworld, the sinners got less and less enthusiastic about themselves, which eventually turned into outright shame among the sinners in the lower depths of hell. Dante uses over the top examples of punishments for sins committed and the differing levels of shame the sinners feel to cause the reader to reevaluate his or her own life in the context of religious wrongdoings. The over the top punishments and shame are needed in this work of art to relay the predominant meaning.
The intense and imaginative punishments Dante relays to the reader cause the reader to look at their life and think about the sins he or she has committed. The punishments for sin in The Inferno increase in severity with the greater the sin. In the vestibule of Hell, Dante come across the opportunists. They race round and round chasing a waving banner while constantly being stung with wasps and hornets that causes a constant flow of blood on the sinners’ bodies. Dante then encounters the sinners of limbo in circle one. Dante views these “virtuous pagans” as the least severe of the sins. “They did not worship God’s Trinity in fullest duty,” therefore the punishments for these sinners are that they have no hope (Dante, 28). This fits nicely for the story and the reader because i...

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...n a much less enthusiastic tone than the previous characters. This example follows the same pattern as mentioned above about Dante’s reactions to the sinners. The farther into hell, the more scornful people become. This is because the sinners are farther away from the Light of God, and live in eternal damnation.

The purpose of Dante including the reactions of the sinners upon meeting Dante has an important role. Dante wants the reader to know that committing a less severe crime results in better treatment in Hell, and therefore a want to be remembered in the real world. Dante is not saying that one should commit a less harsh sin. He is just saying that if one were to do so, the punishment is far better off than the lower depths of Hell. This puts in the mind of the reader a sense to examine his or her own life and urges him or her to not commit sin.
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