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 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 2

Hell is clearly a hierarchical system in The Inferno. The different strati of the pit indicate an economy of sin in which some sins are worse than others, and one is condemned for the worst sin one committed. Discuss in an essay why the sins are arranged in the order they are, from being unbaptized to betraying one's master. Are there any placements with which you disagree? Why are the sins of pleasure placed higher than those of ambition?

Essay Topic 3

Dante's Inferno has a sly humor in the way punishments hold a poetic appropriateness to the sin they punish. In an essay, choose three circles of Hell from the text and discuss this poetic justice. What sin is punished in this circle, and how is it punished? Does this punishment involve a hyperbolic extremity of the sin, an intense converse state to the sin, or some poetic metaphor for it? How do the damned exist in this state of perpetual punishment?

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