Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1563
1. Dante uses several symbols for sin and righteousness in Canto I. What are the representations? Which do you think is the most effective and why?
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2. Compare and contrast the sins of youth, adulthood, and age.
1. Dante compares himself to others who visited the world of Hades. Who were these persons and why did they make the journey? How would their journeys have affected Dante’s confidence in his completing the upcoming journey?
2. What kinds of love are evident in Canto II? Explain your answer.
1. What is the crime of the uncommitted? What is their punishment? Is this penalty related to the crime? Explain your answer.
2. Why does Charon dispute taking Dante on his boat?
1. What are the indications that you have seen that Dante is lost?
2. Research one of those whom Dante sees about him in the First Circle. Write a paper about that person. In conclusion, express why you think that person is in the First Circle and not further down in the pit.
1. Explain how the sins themselves are punishment in Hell. Use the First and Second Circles as examples.
2. Compare and contrast Minos with Christ.
1. Compare and contrast Circle Two with Circle Three.
2. What did Ciacco mean when he said that Hell had put three sparks in human breasts?
3. Why did Ciacco want Dante to speak his name on earth? Explain your answer.
1. Compare and contrast the use of mud and mire in the punishment of the gluttons and the use of mud and mire in the punishment of the actively and passively wrathful.
2. Pluto is a god of riches. Explain his presence at the entrance to the Fourth Circle.
3. Compare and contrast the Styx and the Acheron.
1. What does it mean when Dante says that the boat does not seem to carry a load at all until Dante entered? Explain your answer.
2. Why do you think that Dante shows anger toward the soul in the mud?
1. Virgil says that the witch Erichtho wanted to “call back the shades to their dead clay.” What do you think he meant by that? Please explain fully.
2. Describe the souls in punishment in the Nether Hell, the City of Dis. Why are they there? What is their punishment?
1. What is the shade’s response when Dante asks him with whom he lies?
2. When does the shade say that Dante will learn the meaning of life? What do you think he means by that?
1. Dante describes three circles containing souls who have committed sins worse than others. Which sins are more severe? Why?
2. Why is usury a sin? Explain in detail.
1. Dante has crossed three rivers: the Acheron, the Styx, and the Phlegethon. Compare and contrast each of these rivers.
2. Explain the relationship of the sin of violence and the punishment of boiling them in the blood of the Phlegethon.
1. Compare and contrast the woods in Canto XIII with the woods in Canto I, when Dante realizes he is lost.
2. Describe how the spirits of the suicide victims enter the trees.
1. Describe how the valley was made.
2. Describe some of the events which happened in Crete, according to the stories told by Virgil.
1. What things does Dante share with his former adviser? What things does his former adviser share with him?
2. Go back through all the cantos up to this point. Find all the references to Beatrice and note the nouns that are used in place of her name. What do these references and nouns tell you about Dante’s impressions of her?
1. Compare and contrast what is said of Jacopo Rusticucci in Canto VI and in Canto XVI.
2. Many of the persons whom Dante has seen in Hell have asked to be remembered to others when he returns from the pit. Why do you think that they make that request? Answer completely. You may give several reasons, but you must justify each.
3. Predict what you think will come from the pit where Virgil throws the rope girdle. Describe it in detail.
1. Describe in detail the creature that comes from the Circle of Fraud. Does it seem an appropriate monster for the Circle of Fraud? Explain your answer.
2. Compare and contrast the levels of sin and punishment of those in the boiling river of blood, the fiery rain, and the burning sand.
1. Dante opens Canto XVIII with a descriptive passage unequaled anywhere else in the Inferno. What does he describe? Why does he spend so much time on this description?
2. Dante seems to be drawn to heroes. What hero is described in Canto XVIII? Why is he placed in Malbowges? What trait(s) does he have that Dante admires? Explain your answer.
1. Explain the relationship between the sin of trafficking in holy articles and the punishment in Hell.
2. How does the punishment of Popes differ from the punishment of ordinary people in this area of Hell?
1. Why are the sinners that Dante observed in Canto XX punished by having their heads turned backwards?
2. Explain what Virgil means when he says that in Hell either piety or pity must die.
1. Describe in detail the sights and sounds of the Fifth Bowge, or the Fifth Trench. Compare and contrast these with another canto and the sights and sounds witnessed there.
2. Discuss the punishments for the sinners in the Fifth Bowge. Do you think these punishments are related to the sin? Why did you answer as you did?
1. Dante inserts some humor, or comic relief, in Canto XXII when the demons are outwitted by one of the shades. Describe this event.
2. Compare the trickery used in Canto XXII with another story that you have read.
1. An allegory is a text that has hidden spiritual meanings; using Canto XXIII, find any spiritual meanings you can and comment on each.
2. Dante refers to Aesop’s fables. Research who Aesop was. Were all of Aesop’s stories? Did Aesop write long before Dante? What are some other stories that Aesop wrote? Could Dante have incorporated any of these into his cantos?
1. How is the punishment of being placed in a chasm with vipers fitting punishments for those who steal?
2. Many interpreters see within Dante’s writings a British Farm Association. Do you see such an association? Why? Justify your answer.
1. Compare and contrast Dante’s attitude and feelings toward Vanni Fucci and his attitude and feelings toward the soothsayers and fortune tellers in Canto XX. Why do you think there is a change?
2. Dante does not reveal to the reader the step-by-step process in all the changes of man and beast in Canto XXV. How does he manage to omit some of these steps? Do you think that this omission weakens the canto? Explain your answer.
1. Why did Virgil not want Dante to speak to the flames?
2. Ancients used fire to purify water, food, and even utensils. Is there any relation to the purifying power of fire and the counselors’ speaking through a flame? Explain.
1. Explain how Guido da Montefeltro became a resident of Hell and particularly a resident of the particular Circle VIII, Bowge VIII.
2. Dante gives, in effect, a news update to the shade in Circle VIII. What news might he report if he were making his trip in the current year?
1. Is there a relationship between the punishment of the Sowers of Discord and their sins? Explain your answer.
2. Describe the type(s) of conflict that is(are) present in Canto XXVIII. Give examples of each. (Some types of conflict might include person-against-person conflict, person-against-self conflict, person-against-society conflict, and person-against-nature conflict.)
1. Describe the sights in the Ninth Circle. How does the punishment in the Ninth Circle relate to the sin of falsifying?
2. The harlot in Canto XVIII and the two shades in Canto XXIX both use their nails. Compare and contrast this use of nails for the harlot and the shades.
1. Explain the scene that Dante is observing when Virgil criticizes him. Why does Virgil criticize Dante for observing?
2. Two women—the false wife and Myrrha—are in Circle Eight. Women are not described in detail in most of the other circles. What are the sins of these women? Why do you think Dante does not describe women in the other circles? How do you think their absence in the other circles and their presence in this circle affects the reader’s image of women?
1. Discuss the conflicts found in Canto XXXI.
2. Why do you think the giants are condemned to Hell?
1. The traitors to their kindred are confined to Region i, where it is cold. How does this punishment fit the crime they committed? Explain your answer.
2. Why do you think that there are no women in this region? Explain your answer.
1. Dante promises to remove the ice from the shade’s eyes, but he does not. Why does Dante break his promise?
2. What conflicts does Dante include in Canto XXXIII?
1. Describe Dis (Satan) as he appears in Canto XXXIV.
2. What do you think is the symbolism of Dante’s leaving Hell on Easter Sunday? Explain your answer.