October 19, 2012
Dante’s and Milton’s Visions of Hell
Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost both describe their unique visions of what the author thinks Hell is like. Inferno and Paradise Lost also share many similarities and differences on their views of Hell as well as describe the characteristics of Hell and the demon that rules it, Satan.
Paradise Lost and Inferno have many similarities. The most obvious similarity is their description of torture inflicted on Satan as well as on the sinners. Paradise Lost describes this by explaining to the reader that relaxation and happiness can never be in Hell and torture lasts forever, described in lines 65-69:
… Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulfur unconsumed:
At the same time Dante’s Inferno describes how Judas, Brutus, and Cassius are trapped in the devil’s mouth forever suffering and being tortured for their sins of treachery. This detail is explained in lines 54-56 of the story. “In every mouth he worked a broken sinner / between his rake-like teeth. Thus he kept three / in eternal pain at his eternal dinner.” Another popular similarity between these two works is the images of darkness. Milton writes in lines 61-63 of Paradise Lost that Hell is basically a prison with no exit where there’s a hot furnace burning but producing not light but darkness, “A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, / As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames / No light, but rather darkness visible….” Darkness is also described in lines 138-141 in Inferno when Dante and his master were climbing out of the darkness of Hell towards the opening of light which is highly overt.
He first, I second, without thought of rest
we climbed the dark until we reached the point
where a round opening brought in sight the...