Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Contrapasso in Dante’s Inferno College

Inferno narrates Dante’s journey through Hell which is guided by the Roman poet Virgil. During their travels through each of the nine circles of Hell, Dante and Virgil witness contrapasso, or the law which ensures that each sinner is punished with a sentence that suits their offense’s severity according to Medieval expectations. Some punishments that Virgil and Dante observe logically fit the corresponding crimes. Other punishments, however, are more symbolic and obscure. Although the nature of the sins may be related, each punishment is tailored to torture each sinner in a manner that reflects how the sins affected others, therefore allowing the punishments to vary greatly. Throughout their journey, Dante and Virgil observe and converse with the sinners to explore the relationship between sin itself and its corresponding contrapasso.

When Dante and Virgil arrive in the third circle of Hell, it is raining, as this is the always the weather that accompanies the punishment of the gluttons. Dante describes the rain as “eternal, cursed, cold, and heavy rain; its rule and quality never change” (6.7-9). The rainwater is filthy and large hailstones and snow also fall from the sky. The “earth stinks that receives them” (6.11-12). In...

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