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 Alighieri is clearly a Catholic poet, and so his epic poem does not necessarily reflect a worldview in which there are many paths to Heaven. Write an essay on the distinctly Catholic roots of The Inferno, focusing on three aspects of the poem:

Part 1) Who is punished in the first circle of Hell, Limbo? How does this reflect the notion that even a virtuous life is not sufficient to ensure salvation? What has kept the souls in this circle from entering Heaven or even Purgatory? Did they ever, in fact, have the chance of achieving salvation in Dante's divinity?

Part 2) Discuss the circle in which those guilty of committing violence against God are punished. How does the population of this circle reflect a moral code informed exclusively by the Christian religious texts? Who is punished there that today would be considered wholly innocent in a secular humanist view?

Part 3) Discuss parts of The Inferno in which Dante is distinctly critical of the Catholic Church. What is his attitude toward the hierarchy of Rome? What specific grievances does the pilgrim Dante cite in his journey through Hell?

Essay Topic 2

Write an essay on the portrayal of humanity as a whole, as delineated by the events of The Inferno. Given that nearly everyone in the text is a sinner, what does Alighieri indicate is the root of iniquity in life? What specific sources of sin does he point out over the course of the journey? As Dante and Virgil exit Hell, Virgil discusses mankind's inclinations regarding Satan. What are these inclinations? How does this passage counter the view of humanity painted by the cantos that came before?

Essay Topic 3

The impetus to write a travelogue of Hell is a multifaceted question. Dante Alighieri is clearly enraged by enough issues of his day that he feels the need to send people to Hell. Write an essay in three parts dealing with the catalysts for much of the subject-matter of The Inferno. How has Dante been affected each of these issues? How is this issue represented in the poem? What punishment is doled out to malefactors of each issue?

Part 1) The civil war in Florence.

Part 2) Corruption in the Catholic Church

Part 3) General ascendancy of unscrupulous people.

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