The Divine Comedy Questions and Answers
by Dante Alighieri

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How did Dante use satirical objects in The Divine Comedy?

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In Dante's Divine Comedy and more specifically in the Inferno, the idea of the contrapasso serves as a unifying ironic feature. Unlike a poet such as Chaucer, whose satire is more overt and biting, Dante's irony is more pervasive.

For instance, in the Inferno, each person occupies a place that reflects the primary choices he or she made in life—what they most wanted. In the Inferno, cosmic irony (when human ideas of the laws of the universe differ from the gods) reveals itself through the contrapasso, as the sinners' desire for self-fulfillment, success, happiness, love, and so on is turned inside out. They get what they want, but their will was distorted: they no longer want what they chose.

In canto 5, for example, the Lustful are swept in a hurricane-like wind, reflecting their lustful impulse to "swept off their feet" by passion. They achieve this goal through lustful pursuits but then are tormented by the recognition of the inadequate object of their distorted love. In Paradisio , the proper...

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