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

Because the realm of Hell in The Inferno is a bureaucratic location where souls are assessed and assigned punishments, sin takes on a quantifiable form. Write an essay about sin as object in the poem. How does sin become the only quantifiable commodity when a soul dies? How is the soul completely assessed based on the quantity of this sin on it? Cite examples from the text to illustrate how souls in Hell are entirely defined by their sins.

Essay Topic 2

The geography of Hell is oddly specific in Dante's poem. He gives a clear sense not only of the dimensions of the realm, but also the realm's place in the universe as a whole. Write an essay about the geography of Hell, in three parts:

Part 1) According to Virgil's explanation of Satan's fall and the forming of Hell, why is it a conical pit? What was the logic behind its construction after the plummet of the devil to earth? Discuss how this construction reflects a positive view of humanity and its relationship with sin and evil.

Part 2) Discuss the rivers of Hell. How many of them are there? Where do they all originate, and where are they all flowing? Why is the marsh at the bottom of Hell's pit frozen? Where does the freezing wind from its bottom originate?

Part 3) Discuss Hell's placement in the earth. How does it situate itself in the center of the earth? How is it situated in relation to the mountain of Purgatory? Discuss how this geographical location affects the route that Dante and Virgil take to leave Hell and head toward Purgatory. How do they have to resituate themselves as they descend?

Essay Topic 3

The subject of The Inferno is clearly a dire one, but the poem is not without its humorous components. Write an essay discussing the use of humor in Alighieri's work. What characters and situations in the poem provide comedy in the face of damnation? What is the nature of this humor? Is it morbid? Slapstick? Wordplay? What is the tonal function of these comedic passages? How do they relate to the more somber portions?

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