What were some literary devices in Canto VIII of Dante's Inferno?

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Dante loves to make the abstract concrete and uses a number of literary devices to do this, including metaphor, simile, imagery, and personification. He also uses allusion and alliteration.

In canto 7, Virgil and Dante visit the fourth circle of hell, where they encounter the...

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Dante loves to make the abstract concrete and uses a number of literary devices to do this, including metaphor, simile, imagery, and personification. He also uses allusion and alliteration.

In canto 7, Virgil and Dante visit the fourth circle of hell, where they encounter the people who were too fixated on money in life: the hoarders and the spendthrifts. Later, they encounter the wrathful—both the actively angry and the sullen—passive aggressors.

The love of money weighs down people's souls. Dante uses vivid imagery to make this abstract concept—of a soul weighed down—concrete. Those who squandered money in an irresponsible way must push large weights away from themselves with their chests, while those who hoarded money must push the weights towards themselves. These two groups bump and bruise each other.

A metaphor is a comparison. Most metaphors make abstract concepts concrete so that a reader can experience them with the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and/or touch. The actions of these sinners are a metaphor for their behavior in life: both groups were too fixated on the material—on goods, things, and money—and now must literally bear the weights of that in the afterlife. We vividly see what this looks like and the suffering it brings.

Virgil explains Fortune or Luck to Dante by personifying, or giving human attributes to this abstract concept. He pictures Fortune as a "she" and explains that her actions remain mysterious to humans as she moves her riches from one person or nation to another. Virgil also uses simile, a comparison using "like" or "as," as he compares Fortune to a snake: Fortune is "like a serpent in the grass, is hidden." She is also "swift," says Virgil. We can easily visualize the image of a snake lurking in the grass unseen and suddenly striking.

Dante makes an allusion or reference to classical mythology when he has Dante and Virgil cross the Styx, the river the dead must cross to reach the underworld. In a typical touch, he uses the imagery of the boat they are in almost sinking to convey that they are alive and heavy, not dead and lightweight like most passengers to hell.

On the other side, Virgil and Dante meet the wrathful. Dante wants to know who they are, but Virgil tells him that their anger obliterated their identities:

the undiscerning life that made them filthy
now renders them unrecognizable.

Once again, imagery makes the abstract concrete: the wrathful are literally covered in the mud and muck of their anger. Mud and filth become metaphors for anger.

About those who were sullen and passively angry, Virgil uses alliteration, which is repeating the same consonant at the beginning of words, to emphasize their fates. Here, "s," "b" and "g" words are repeated:

Wedged in the slime, they say: "We had been sullen
in the sweet air that’s gladdened by the sun;
we bore the mist of sluggishness in us:
now we are bitter in the blackened mud."
This hymn they have to gurgle in their gullets,
because they cannot speak it in full words.

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Literary devices are the collected elements and techniques with which an author communicates meaning through the written word. One category of literary devices is literary elements. These are components that are universal to all literary fiction and narrative and include things like theme, conflict, point of view, etc. the other category of literary device is literary techniques. Though literary techniques are universally used, they are not universally present in each and every work of fiction or narrative. This is because the author carefully chooses which literary techniques to utilize in order to create the most effective communication of meaning for any specific work. Literary techniques relate to single words, phrases, groups of words or groups of phrases. Some examples of literary techniques are allegory, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.

In Canto VIII of Dante's Inferno, some literary devices that are present are: the literary element conflict ("These our adversaries closed the gates on the breast of my Lord...I shall win the strife, whoever circle round within..."); symbolism ("So sweet the Father..."); allegory ("comfort thy dejected spirit and feed on good hope, for I will not leave thee in the nether world."); visual imagery ("clasped my neck, kissed my face,..."); word plays ("running through the dead channel..."); and alliteration ("deep ditches that encompass that disconsolate...").

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