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Inferno : Imagery

Inferno : Imagery

Imagery is the descriptive language used in literature to recreate sensory experiences. Inferno, by Dante Alighieri, expresses vibrant imagery and uses it effectively to tie into the theme.

The usage of imagery in Inferno is critical to the development of this epic poem. Dante finds himself lost in the Dark Woods of Error and encounters three beasts: a spotted leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. These three animals stand at the fork in the road that leads to the path of righteousness. The leopard is a very elaborate and smooth creature; his muscles complement his body movement in a flowing manner. Yet, it is on the brink of jumping Dante. The lion, raging with fierceness and boasting its big head, is also about to attack. The she-wolf is on the verge of starvation, and its gaunt appearance is evidence. All three of these beasts prove to be a threat to Dante. They represent sins in one’s life that can be corrected, a second chance. They are merely roadblocks, which can be overcome, not by fighting, but by running away. Another illustration of the brilliant imagery that Dante portrays is the confrontation with the devil. Satan is described as having three horrendous faces, a sickly green one, a red one, and a black one. His wings are like a bats in texture, but exponentially larger. In his mouth he eternally chews three sinners while drooling bloody froth and pus. The icy lake Satan is trapped in is polluted with gore and saliva. His size is that of a towering monster; he is big enough for Dante and Virgil to climb his back and escape hell. Both of these examples of imagery have relevance. The beasts exemplify worldly things that can be corrected, while the tour of hell shows the reader if one misses God and cannot conquer these obstacles that he will end up in this repulsive place Dante describes as hell. The colorful imagery used by the author plays a key role in the establishment of this poem as well as its theme.

Dante carefully links the images described to the poem’s theme. The theme is the struggle of the soul to reject sin, and approach God. The animals, a representation of human’s sins, must be avoided in order to reach one’s ultimate goal, God. To circumvent torture one must defeat these beasts that...

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