What do you think was Dante's purpose in writing Inferno?  

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dante wrote The Divine Comedy during a period of personal and political upheaval, and the work reflects many of the issues in Florentine political life, literary history, and Dante's personal life.

On a political level, Italy at this period was not unified—unification was not completed until 1871—but instead consisted of various small states often involved in rivalries against each other or affiliations with different larger European states. Florence, Dante's native city, was caught up in a contest between two factions know as the the Guelphs and Ghibellines, with the Guelphs tending to...

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       The purpose of Dante's The Devine Comedy was to act as a critique of Italian government at the time. The Inferno is the first of three parts of The Devine Comedy and is intended to display sin in a revolutionary new way, hierarchically. Dante, through his portrayal of the nine circles in Hell, conveys the different sins punishable by an eternity of hell while also ranking them in severity. Dante the pilgrim (the character in the story) witnesses these sins, and their related punishments, and judges them with reason and sympathy. This represents the Italian governing style of the time (controlled mostly by the Church), which was one of growing leniency to the Christian followers. But along his way through Hell, Dante comes to realize that sins are punished by God and that this is "right". This is the initial critique, representing his feelings toward the sin of the Church controlled government and their followers. That sins will be punished by God without remorse, and the only way to not be punished is to commit to a life of God by returning to Christian values. The important thing to take away is that the Church was developing it's own set of what are sins, and how they will be punished. Dante, in essence, says NO! We need to return to core Christian beliefs and values, and in his Inferno gives a very descriptive representation of what will happen if not.