Dante's Inferno Questions and Answers
by Dante Alighieri

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What are a few examples of symbolism from Canto 3 of "Dante's Inferno"? Were doing that story in English class and I just can't find it! I found a whole bunch of other writing devices but I can't find that one. I even asked my mom and her friend and they had no idea what I was talking about. No body in my group would help and I ended up doing 2 parts of the assignment when they only did 1 because they are lazy. This is my 2nd one I am doing.

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ebogart eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While short, Canto III of Dante's Inferno is the first glimpse we get into Hell. As such, there will naturally be a couple of key elements to note.

Upon entering what, for lack of a better term, might be considered the "lobby" of Hell, Dante is immediately assaulted with the wailing and groans of the denizens of this circle. In short order the cries of the damned begin to make Dante himself weep.

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.

Inferno, Canto III, 22–24 (tr. Longfellow)

The tears that Dante sheds symbolize the pity that he feels for the spirits that are trapped here in Hell. More specifically, they represent the all-too-human emotions that Dante will have to rid himself of if he is to endure his journey through Hell. As he descends through the circles, Dante learns that the punishments that cause such pain are just and well suited to the particular sins of each circle's inhabitants.

As the canto...

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