English Literature » Notes » Symbolism in Dante’s Inferno (Divine Comedy: Book 1)
Divine Comedy: The Inferno

Symbolism in Dante’s Inferno (Divine Comedy: Book 1)

In the Inferno in Divine Comedy, Dante uses endless symbolism to bring a deeper meaning to his thrilling adventure through hell. Nearly every aspect of the book contains a symbolic meaning. This is apparent in the punishments that Dante sets down from a wrathful God to the sinners. For each of the many different categories of sinners, Dante creates a punishment that fits the specific sin perfectly. There are also many other prominent instances of symbolism throughout the book, including the many settings in which the book takes place and Virgil and Beatrice.

First of all, Dante’s use of symbolism through the punishments is one of the main ways he conveys the wrong of the specific sin. Starting in canto three, one starts to see the connection between the sin and the punishment dealt upon the sinner. The opportunists are here, neither in hell nor out of it (showing that their sin wasn’t too severe). As they pursued the ever-shifting illusion of their own advantage, changing their courses with every changing wind, so they pursue eternally an elusive, ever-shifting banner. As their sin was a dark doing, so they move in darkness.

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