Essay: Dante Images of Suffering

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Dante Image

Images of Suffering in Dante's Inferno

The cliche saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is true in a great many circumstances, but in the case of many great works of literature it seems that the opposite is true, and that a few carefully selected words can create a much clearer image in the mind of the reader than any picture ever could. This is certainly the case with Dante's Inferno, which narrates the journey of the poet through the many circles of Hell. The images of the suffering inhabitants of the netherworld that are created in Dante's verses are very clear yet at the same time largely incomplete, and oddly it is the same method of description that creates both of these features. Through his highly selective description of specific actions or features of the figures he is describing, Dante manages to paint very clear and poignant images of unique suffering using very few words, showing his true genius at the craft of poetry.

It is through very simple details that Dante is often able to create the images of suffering that appear throughout the poet's trip through the Inferno. The timing of these details can be just as important as the descriptions of the details themselves; they often appear suddenly in the midst of less image-filled and far wordier sections, catching the reader -- and the poet -- off-guard and thus accentuating the suffering. A lengthy description of one unfortunate fellow, for example, is interrupted by the line, "O me! See that one, how he grinds his teeth" (Inferno Canto XXII). This brief detail manages to convey the frustration, the pain, and the ongoing anguish of life in hell, with the grinding… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Dante Images of Suffering.  (2010, July 17).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from

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"Dante Images of Suffering."  17 July 2010.  Web.  19 July 2019. <>.

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"Dante Images of Suffering."  July 17, 2010.  Accessed July 19, 2019.