Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More Literary Terms found in The Inferno

In this brief commentary on The Inferno I will discuss Contrapasso and Allusion.

Contrapasso:  Simply the demonstration of a punishment which reflects the crime.
The Irony that is Contrapasso is found throughout The Inferno. The idea that the punishment mirrors the nature of the sin committed is repeated through the circles of Virgil’s created Hell. One instance of this is of the Hoarders and Wasters. In life these people Dante comes across in circle four wasted their money and provisions. Their punishment as my notes say is that, “one excess serves to punish the other.”

There are many other examples of Contrapasso. Here are a few more:

Gluttons wallow in their food so they in eternal punishment will wallow in filth and slavery to Cerberus, who carelessly tears them apart (circle three).

In the last station of Upper Hell (fifth circle) we see the wrathful continueing their gruesome fighting in the muck of their eternity. The Sullen, those who refused to accept the light, are found in this same circle now living in darkness under the stinking waters of the Styx.

The Blasphemers, Sodomites and Usurers are all punished in a continual burning desert. Blasphemy, Sodomy and Usury are all unproductive and futile pursuits. Thus these sinners must live in a place where even the purpose of rain contradicts itself. In it’s natural state rain would be cool and refreshing, but in this place of torment it is a continual burning rain of fire. Thus they are tortured by the wrath of nature in the sands under them and the wrath of God in the violent fire pouring down on them, two of the things they disrespected in their lifetime.

Allusion:  a reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history. Allusion is found in many places in this work, revealing men of all different stations in life in utter depravity. Some of these allusions I found the most interesting were those that referenced Greek gods and monsters. I thought it was quite fascinating how Dante used these different monsters in his story but portrayed many of them contrary to how they were known at the time.

Ser Bruneto Latino was obviously dearly loved and respected by Dante, thus it is important for us readers to understand that this suffering man had greatly influenced Dante’s own writing. The idea that one whom Dante looked up to was now caste below him definitely contributes to Dante’s purpose throughout The Inferno, which is to demonstrate the depravity of mankind.