Critique of the punishments in Dante's Inferno

Essay by pilot1Junior High, 9th grade August 2004

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Dante Alighieri was born in 13th century Italy, where he was involved in politics. When a different political party came to power, Dante was sent out of Florence, as was the custom at those times. After being exiled from Florence, Dante wrote The Divine Comedy which consisted of three books, one of which was the Inferno. The Inferno tells what Dante thought hell should be like. Dante's Inferno consisted of 34 cantos, in which Virgil led Dante through hell. Dante used the Inferno to show what he thought of some of the people living at his time, as well as to show what he believed to be appropriate punishments for various sins. Many of the punishments Dante created for the people were very appropriate, but some were not.

One of the punishments that was appropriate was in Canto XXIII. Canto XXIII describes the level of hell in which hypocrites, people who tried to act like something they were not, were punished.

The hypocrites were forced to wear an extremely heavy coat of lead for eternity. In this level of hell, Dante met a friar, whose group was known as the Jovial Friars, probably because they did whatever they wanted to do and did not take being a friar seriously. Dante also saw someone crucified with stakes on the ground, the person turned out to be one of the Pharisees that said, "it was expedient to put one man to torture for the people" the one man refers to Christ. The hypocrites had tried to make others think that they were something which they were not, which is why it was appropriate for Dante to make the hypocrites wear heavy outer clothing that hid who they really were.

Another level of hell was described in Canto 13: those who committed...