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Dantes Inferno Essay

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Dantes Inferno Essay
In the Inferno, mutilation is the most common way for those in hell to be given the ineluctable punishment for their sins. Mutilation is an act or physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of the body. Mutilation is both used in the inferno as a way to cause physical pain to those in hell, but the form of mutilation used on the sinners is also a form of emotional torture because it pertains directly to their sin. Because mutilation is used so frequently in the inferno Dante must use varying ways to depict the mutilation that is forced on the sinners. Dante uses vivid imagery, Homeric similes, and symbolism to help develop the theme of mutilation as he travels through the Inferno.
The entirety of the Inferno is structured around the imagery that Dante uses to depict the rings of hell. Therefore imagery is the literary device that Dante uses most frequently to intensify the horror of the mutilation that is forced upon the sinners. “Down their bodies a sensed a strange distortion
That made the angle of chin and chest not right-
The head was twisted backwards: some cruel torsion
Forced face towards the kidneys, and the people strode
Backwards, because of deprived of forward vision” (XX. 11-15) The strength in Dante’s imagery in this quote is not so much that he uses elegant vocabulary, but more that he structures the words in a blunt, straightforward way that enunciate the draconian punishments and make them more intense. The imagery in the inferno is honest and the reader is fully exposed to the horror of the punishments.
While Dante’s imagery is sometimes straightforward, he also has disparate instances where his the elegant diction in his imagery leaves the audience haunted such as when he describes those in hell for committing suicide, “Our bodies will be hung: with every one, fixed on the thornbush of its wounding shade” (XIII. 101). The imagery of this mutilation leaves the audience wondering about the about the wounding shade.

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