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Dante’s Circles of Hell: Sins and Punishments Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2022

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle of hell is dedicated to the deadly sin of lust, which is the final destination for the individuals who used to be lustful and adulterous during their life. Famous residents of this circle of hell included Achilles, Paris, Cleopatra, and Helen of Troy (Puchner, 2021). As a punishment, the inhabitants were forced to deal with continuous and extreme wind storms. Such a punishment is fitting because it symbolized the swaying of passions associated with an adulterous relationship. There is no peace and stability when it comes to lust, and the residents of the second circle were also given no rest.

The fourth circle is about greed, reserved for the overly materialistic people who were only concerned about their wealth and financial stability. As Dante suggested, individuals condemned to this circle spend a long time fighting over money and valuables, which is why they are greeted by Plutus, the mythical deity of wealth. The punishment for greed is being weighted down with material possessions, which is a highly fitting solution – the sinners feel the physical weight of the excess, which was intended to teach them that material things are just things.

The fifth circle hosts violent individuals, the wrath of whom in life was divided into violence against others, violence against self, and violence against God. The ones who were violent toward others are boiled in the river of blood to make them feel the physical pain that they caused to others, as well as see the consequences of their actions. Those causing harm to themselves were condemned to eternal misery as gnarled trees in the Wood of Suicides. Finally, violence against God was punished by placing the sinners in the Abominable Sands, left to wander in the desert and experience the burning sandstorms. Such a punishment was fitting because violence against God was likened to being lost in a desert, walking to find one’s purpose.

Reference

Puchner, M. (2021). The Norton anthology of world literature (shorter 4th ed.). W.W. Norton & Company.

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IvyPanda. "Dante’s Circles of Hell: Sins and Punishments." June 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dantes-circles-of-hell-sins-and-punishments/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Dante’s Circles of Hell: Sins and Punishments." June 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dantes-circles-of-hell-sins-and-punishments/.

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