Divine Comedy Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The Inferno is, in large part, a journey for the protagonist from confused pity for the damned souls around him to righteous indignation. Write an essay, charting this transition and its drivers. Chart this in three parts:

Part 1) When Dante first descends with Virgil into the pit of Hell, how does he respond to what he sees there? Discuss various physical reactions he has to the degradation around him and what this means in terms of his attitude toward the sinners.

Part 2) For a time, Virgil tolerates Dante's histrionics in the face of such horrors in Hell. Discuss how this begins to shift. What behavior on Dante's part becomes unacceptable to Virgil, and when does it become unacceptable? What does Virgil admonish him to do in amending his responses?

Part 3) By the time Dante and Virgil enter the ninth circle of Hell, Dante's feeling towards the sinners before him has changed. Citing examples from his last interactions, discuss what he feels about the souls around him. How has his feeling toward sin and the sinner changed over the course of the poem?

Essay Topic 2

The souls of The Inferno are compellingly human in that, since they have no hope of salvation, they are obsessed with the state of the living world. Write an essay discussing the dead's attitude toward the living. Why are souls constantly begging Dante to listen to their stories? What power does he have as an emissary from the living? How is the perception of the dead stilted regarding the present? Why must they rely on Dante to learn of the present state of things?

Essay Topic 3

In The Inferno, Dante clearly divides the sins which are punished into two groups, divided by a great wall. The division exists as a division in both intention and objective, and one group is clearly more appalling to God than the other. Discuss this division in a two-part essay:

Part 1) What sins are punished in the circles outside the City of Dis? What do these types of sins have in common? Discuss why these sins are less egregious than the ones that are punished inside the walls of Dis. To what extent does this entail a divine justice that understands, at least in part, the temptations of human nature?

Part 2) What do all the sins that exist inside the City of Dis and below have in common? How are they all unnatural in their intention and in the actions necessary to commit them? Is there any inherent pleasure to them? In discussing this, discuss how Dante's attitude toward the sinners around him changes.

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