Imagery in Dante's Inferno

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Robert Herrick, an English poet, once said, “Hell is no other but a soundlesse pit, where no one beame of comfort peeps in it.” Picture any type of Hell with relief, happiness, or even the smallest crack of a smile. There is no place. In fact, one can only think of the complete opposite, whether it is a Hell filled with neglect, pain, disgust, or a never-ending life of horror. This is the place created by Dante Alighieri; The Inferno is exactly the type of Hell where no person would want to be. Even those who acted upon the lightest of sins suffered greatly. While each realm contained a different sinner, the punishment that each were forced to face was cruel, repulsive, and sometimes rather disgusting. Through grieving tears without an exit, unbearably itchy scabs, and a putrid, slushy ground, Dante uses vivid imagery to describe the various realms of Hell.

As Dante passes through each realm, he uses organic and visual imagery to describe the sinners’ lives in Hell. When people feel an immense amount of pain, physically or mentally, they usually cry. Those treacherous to their country could not bear to handle their grief. However, as freezing rain and wind whipped their faces, their tears froze in their eyes. Dante used organic imagery to give a clear impression of the suffering these sinners dealt with: “Their very weeping closes up their eyes; / and the grief that finds no outlet for its tears / turns inward to increase their agonies” (Alighieri XXXIII.94-96). Dante made it apparent that the sinners’ actions made their bodies filled with grief, a feeling that is painful enough for anyone. However, as if mental pain is not enough, Dante assures the reader that the sinners’ grief was thrown directly back into their bodies since they could not cry. Because of this, the reader cannot picture the sinners’ pain, but actually feel what it would be like to be unable to release grief through tears. In the realm of the alchemists, Dante uses visual imagery to portray...
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