How many levels are in Dante's version of hell? Why are there even levels?

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In the Inferno by Dante Alighieri, there are nine circles of Hell, each reflecting more serious sins and each having punishments reflecting the nature and severity of a specific type of mortal sin. One of the reasons for there being circles of Hell is that the ways in which the punishments reflect their causes shows the workings of divine justice. Rather than the punishments being random, we can see how the sinners by the nature of their acts brought specific forms of retribution on themselves. In some ways, this is similar to any sense of justice, in which the punishment should fit the crime. Just as we wouldn't want to punish a kid who stole a piece of candy from a store in the same way as we'd punish an armed robber, so too Dante shows that God responds appropriately and fairly to gradations in the severity of sins.

The full eNotes summary describes all the circles individually.

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