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

Dante's poem serves as something of a hodgepodge of allusions. He draws from several different sources. In a three-part essay, discuss these various sources. Cite several examples of individuals who appear in the text. Why are they in Hell? How does the poet-pilgrim of the text react to their presence? Does he interact with them?

Part 1) Classical Greek mythology

Part 2) The Christian Bible

Part 3) Contemporary Italian politics

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

Most of the figures featured is Dante's poem are being punished in Hell for one sin or another. There are, however, groups that serve functions in Hell; one could almost call them employees of Hell. Write a poem in three parts about these figures of The Inferno:

Part 1) At what point does Dante encounter the Fallen Angels who fought on Satan's side in the Heavenly civil war? What is their job in Hell? How do they interact with Virgil and Dante in their passages of The Inferno? Discuss how Virgil deals with these officiates of the City of Dis.

Part 2) Only some of the circles of Hell actually have demons in them. Discuss which circles these are and what duties the demons must perform within them. What human characteristics do these monsters display? How does Alighieri portray them in the text? What is the cumulative effect of their passages of the poem?

Part 3) Who are the Giants and what is their function concerning the ninth circle of Hell? Discuss why they are imprisoned in Hell, and why only some of them are chained? What service does one of the Giants perform for the pilgrims in the poem?

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