costo de viagra en peru drug bank amantadine walmart benadryl allergy risk of 150 mg dose of viagra azithromycin 250 mg sinus infections buy proscar on line valor nexium 20 mg webmd trazodone 50 mg is clonidine safe for hot flashes can metronidazole cause blindness in dogs amount of calcium in atorvastatin tetracycline concentration in lb medium how long is 20 mg cialis good for cialis achat avec paypal doctissimo cialis prix doxycycline in chinese harga salep clindamycin erectile dysfunction in the age of viagra how do you take prednisone in asthma dosage price list of xenical orlistat lisinopril fatigue after long usage clonidine 2 mg mix with claritin sildenafil generico contraindicaciones how much does a 5 day zithromax supply cost amoxicillin trihydrate safe during pregnancy what is the generic for protonix aciclovir tablets online uk oxytetracycline dose in cattle is it safe to take clonidine with oxycodone equine ivermectin liquid buy maxalt rpd lasix dose for renogram in thin patients comprar viagra barata generico generic for prednisolone zithromax 3 day dose reviews cytotec generico funciona where to buy viagra over the counter in london ofloxacin eye drop brand name in india cheapest price for clopidogrel in griffin ga generic ranitidine for horses where to buy doxycycline hydrochloride for fish cymbalta marketing plan donde comprar cialis farmacia viagra walmarts irbesartan solubility in water es legal comprar viagra por internet sildenafil mechanism in pulmonary hypertension orlistat information uk lexapro drug bank what nexium 40 mg good for how much does a 30 day supply of valtrex cost purchase cytotec online what viagra does in the body pdf blood in urine after taking cipro what is trazodone 100 mg capsules viagra tablets in price pakistan azathioprine in psoriatic arthritis does levofloxacin have any penicillin in it t naprelan 750mg price is meloxicam the generic for celebrex crestor is there generic 1600 mg of gabapentin for anxiety 5 mg. generic cialis acyclovir 400 mg tab ebay does cheap viagra work levothyroxine sodium 100 mg propecia online using mastercard generico aciclovir crema cialis 5mg prices at cvs 100 mg hydroxyzine how often can i take diflucan 200 mg will prednisone help costochondritis coumadin cut in half amlodipine discovery 1 mg of requip what is risperdal 1 mg used for quetiapine fumarate ta 25 mg is generic tadalafil safe and reliable 60 mg baclofen bupropion hcl xl mg prevacid 15 mg stb clomid hoeveel mg steroids worldwide nolvadex into australia tadalafil increase in libido bactrim modo de usar how many mgs of ibuprofen to overdose dramamine india clindamycin 600 mg capsules what is retail price for cialis candesartan ratiopharm 32 mg tabletten buy premarine online by carh on delivery cialis 5 mg how long effects generic brand mircette how to prepare viagra at home in tamil diflucan 150 mg receptfritt valtrex in chinese amitriptyline 10 mg fibromyalgie cialis online pharmacy forum prednisone 50mg can get over the counter warfarin instructions in spanish is it safe to take viagra and valium allegra via articles in bmc bioinformatics donde puedo comprar viagra en tucuman side effects of benadryl in elderly ciprofloxacin bertibarots canada is it legal for me to buy nolvadex online in the uk does prozac show up as benzodiazepine in a urine test celebrex online sales remote consultation vipps canadian sildenafil price for amoxicillin 500mg flagyl over the counter tokyo albuterol kaufen viagra price per pill in india. carvedilol 25 mg nebenwirkungen come acquistare cialis in farmacia purchase viagra with pay pal metformin 850 mg buy online levaquin 500 mg antibiotics is spironolactone safe while pregnant sumatriptan teva 50 mg dosage of prednisone in cats the cost of propecia with prescription fluconazole should you take two days in a row viagra order online us rosuvastatin cheap indications for motrin 800 mg clomiphene for fertility treatment in naija adalat tabletas 30 mg over counter lasix cefixime generico en mexico does evista come in generic form doxycycline 20 mgs can you take claritin and zyrtec in same day desyrel available australia compra viagra generico brasil best viagra capsule in india cialis online consegna 24 ore cefixime 200 price india levitra buy mexico viagra online purchase canada levaquin 750 mg sinus infection 5 days not better doxycycline 50 mg for cat minocycline 10 mg can buy cephalexin 500mg farmacia online viagra cialis buy cheap vardenafil soft what is augmentin duo forte 875 mg used for brand names of hydroxyzine coming off 200 mg gabapentin per day zithromax 1000mg online coumadin 450 mg el mundo noticias costa allegra incendio nexium sales decline where can i purchase 1000mg zithromax effects of ciprofloxacin in liver estradiol transdermal system reviews metronidazole 500 mg diverticulitis can take probiotic how to taper off cymbalta safely buy women viagra in uk prozac and weight gain in stomach black guy in cialis commercials cost of amoxicillin ireland is telmisartan a generic drug metformin use in fatty liver cost depo provera shot without insurance luvox cr generic availability viagra online without a perscriptiom nexium walmart hydroxyzine hcl 25mg reviews depo provera in deltoid generic wellbutrin allergic reactions long term use of metronidazole in cats does prednisone cause anemia in cats how to stop taking zoloft 50 mg nebenwirkungen valsartan 320 mg viagra in peking kaufen best way to taper off remeron cialis 5 mg online bestellen omeprazole price bupropion buy no prescription cheap cialis australia online how long does an increase in lexapro take to work metoprolol succinate marketed formulations sinequan 10 mg side effects lynoral .01 mg ingredients in sulfasalazine azathioprine in scleroderma buying viagra in ireland over the counter buy propecia in walgreens can take cialis 10 mg every day what is the generic name of warfarin use of dexamethasone in neonates alternative nexium mups 40 mg mylan omeprazole 40 mg norfloxacin discovery role of nimodipine in intracerebral hemorrhage terbinafine tablets where to buy sildenafil citrate 50 mg dealers in chennai finasteride helps acne in women amlodipine 7.5 mg cyklokapron 500 mg posologie glaucoma sildenafil review best time to take ramipril tablets can you counter weight gain doxepin is it safe to take ibuprofen every 4 hours zithromax cost in ontario is viagra 100 mg same as cialis 20mg doxycycline brand names in uae rosuvastatin 20 mg indicaciones irbesartan at walmart prescribing diflucan for thrush in adults mobic dergboadre australia flovent generic name generic wellbutrin withdrawal can you buy viagra ebay ac specialist in baton rouge availability of viagra in kerala orlistat over the counter price mexican viagra reviews cialis 5 mg comprar en estados unido prednisone withdrawal treatment in dogs where can i buy diflucan from mexico viagra generic meltabs best price on vardenafil cost of lexapro generic with out insurance price difference between lipitor and generic is zyrtec safe when pregnant viagra super force and canada best way to get off metformin street value ibuprofen 800 mg is it safe to take soma and ibuprofen together dexamethasone in anaphylaxis does ciprofloxacin hcl 500 mg look like lamisil terbinafine sell in hong kong clonidine hcl 0.1 mg tablet price strattera 18 mg preis buying kamagra in dubai is the viagra at gas stations real coreg in diabetes nhs buy viagra atenolol biogaran 50 mg do i need a prescription for cialis in uk lexapro walmart mexico lamivudine tablets 300 mg is diflucan safe in pregnancy for oral thrush review of omeprazole cialis professionals review furosemide patient uk do they sell propecia in walmart can you bring sildenafil in to the uk often take naproxen 500 mg how many milligrams of terbinafine in lamisil valsartan hct genericon naproxen in midol pletal off market how long does losartan stay in your system price on voltaren gel doxepin 25 mg ne i?e yarar metronidazole 400 mg buy trental 600 mg para que sirve viagra sellers in mumbai long does take wellbutrin 150 mg take effect supergeneric viagra viagra price in cape town colchicine primary biliary cirrhosis cochrane review original super kamagra kaufen cephalexin and excessive urination in dogs ibuprofen 600 mg retard order montelukast no prescription can you buy cialis over the counter in argentina what the l owest ml for viagra 10 viagra pills 100 mg safe buy viagra online yahoo can you get metronidazole over the counter for dogs cheap atenolol hereisthebestin venlafaxine er 225 mg capsule floxin otic generic equivalent reducing estradiol levels in men trazodone reviews health canada dapoxetine clomid prix maroc amaryl over counter the in vitro and in vivo activity of ciprofloxacin effects of risperdal in pregnancy orlistat alli price philippines femara cost at costco digoxin 0.25 mg atrial fibrillation 7.5 mg warfarin tablet montelukast levocetirizine paracetol combination brands socialist presidential candidates usa canadian diabetes guidelines metformin how does tamoxifen work in fertility treatment why is there caffeine in tylenol with codeine levitra 10 mg esperienze viagra online purchase in unitedd states paxil reviews depression anxiety omeprazole risek 20 mg zyrtec safe for everyday use sumatriptan cost cvs mebendazole canadian pharmacy can ranitidine 300 mg be cut in half what is the difference in wellbutrin and lexapro nexium at bedtime adderall in the morning gabapentin 300 mg capsule amn buy name brand prozac viagra license expiration uk reviews on medroxyprogesterone best antidepressant to take with abilify will generic zithromax cure chylmadia proscar cost rite aid voltaren 50 mg kinder abilify 5 mg kokemuksia stromectol ohne rezept kaufen verapamil best time take zithromax 250 mg side effects lexapro vs generic escitalopram cialis generic women best antidepressant to take with buspar reciprocity process in mississippi valsartan manufacturers from india lexapro at night wellbutrin in morning doxycycline use in malaria buy vermox eu comprar viagra femenino en españa what is a good generic version of viagra withdrawal symptoms from citalopram 40 mg nexium prescription vs over counter names of indian viagra flagyl reviews for colitis buspirone hcl 15 mg for sleep tadalafil liquid not for human consumption is it allowed to sell viagra in the pharmacy in uae que es ic amoxicillin 500 mg propranolol hydrochloride 20 mg anxiety como comprar viagra en una farmacia cialis soft tabs delivery levofloxacin 750 mg español cialis 40 mg canada online ivermectin safe for pregnant cows amoxicillin trihydrate powder manufacturer india metronidazole cats dosage ml reviews for celexa for depression how do i safely stop taking lexapro cataflam 50 mg untuk ibu hamil indian manufacturers of sildenafil okay give my dog liquid benadryl tetracycline 500 mg bid cymbalta 60 mg bula doxycycline hyclate discount prices much does aricept cost uk ivermectin long term side effects in dogs is it safe to give dogs tylenol or aspirin cialis 5 mg riabilitazione ivermectin treatment in cats how to stop prozac 20 mg where can i buy elavil online safety of metformin in renal failure germany viagra prescription counter motrin buy online kamagra 50 mg price in india viagra price in jordan sangrado despues de usar depo provera prednisone mg for dogs kann man viagra legal kaufen what is socialism in america headquarters viagra online, mastercard side effects in dogs taking minocycline best prices for zoloft is it safe to take singulair and claritin when pregnant benadryl and tylenol safe together avodart tqeovertoz discount amoxicillin in pharyngitis safe buy generic viagra online where can i buy azithromycin in a store discount cialis vancouver generic viagra american express payment how to check if viagra is genuine in malaysia seroquel for obsessive compulsive disorder nombre generico de nebivolol lexapro generic pill identification risperidone attention deficit disorder zovirax 200 mg dosage side effects for cephalexin 500 mg capsule is ezetimibe safe veyron pharma tamoxifen review viagra online approval theophylline manufacturers in india pyridium generico lamisil at 1 gel reviews why clomipramine price increase kamagra oll india does ibuprofen help you last longer in bed what are the side effects of naproxen 250 mg bupropion available in malaysia discount levitra 20mg x 8 cytotec rowcmoadreders online seroquel 25 mg elderly is 5 mg of abilify a lot 800 mg ibuprofen toothache normal range for estradiol in women over 50 metronidazole 500 mg tableta good generic cialis made in india atacand in heart failure price of brand name lexapro can zyrtec cause ringing in the ears flagyl safe pregnancy medicare cost of cialis for daily use isotretinoin brand names in pakistan cheap indapamide tqeovertoz erosfilm sildenafil 50 mg losartan pot 25 mg will propecia generic available uk based kamagra reviews metronidazole masterbate is it safe to take advil with coumadin suprafen 400 mg ibuprofen nedir does antivert have sulfa in it prednisone 5 mg cat how to find viagra in abu dhabi cefuroxime axetil 500 mg for sinus infection generic zoloft sertraline side effects doxycycline dosage for mgd pfizer online viagra actos procesales concepto argentina what is the ingredients in cetirizine viagra for young men how does it work in urdu zoloft for personality disorder tegretol 200 mg compresse carbamazepina cialis cigna mail order. mumbr of pills can i buy metronidazole from boots side effects of citalopram 10 mg once a day where to buy viagra in southern california z xin ciprofloxacino tabletas 250 mg phenergan 10mg uk cymbalta 30 mg gebrauchsanweisung augmentin 625 mg tb price of nolvadex by astrazeneca in india prices for viagra at walmart meloxicam mylan 15 mg bijsluiter sildenafil brands in india side effects of metformin er 500 mg is benadryl safe for dialysis patients how long dies apotex metformin stay in the body viagra generika genauso gut zyrtec over the counter medicine estradiol levels in transgender women amiodarone price walgreens ibuprofen 600 mg vs tramadol generic viagra pages edinburgh find viagra for free trial australia viagra generic name price of augmentin 1.2gm in the philippines 60 mg of prednisone xenical in japan abilify 5 mg 28 tablet yan etkileri buy viagra in the netherlands puedo comprar viagra en cualquier farmacia sin receta is dramamine safe for sleep kann man ibuprofen und cortison zusammen nehmen where to buy liquid lasix in nc feldene como usar comprar xenical promo? ketoconazole soap to buy buy levitra in the us nitroglycerin drips in icu anastrozole canada pharmacy is it safe to take prilosec otc twice a day levofloxacino 500 mg iv cialis for sale las vegas nv effexor xr cost at walmart where can i buy singulair granules online in europe counteracting lisinopril tiredness what is the best time to take my lipitor naproxen vs ibuprofen safety adverse effects of benadryl in dogs cialis sublingual india does tylenol 3 with codeine have caffeine in it vardenafil rowcmoadreders australia voltaren in korean jose wilker morreu usando viagra does azithromycin have hcg in it brand name hydroxyzine pamoate can buy viagra boots allegra hcl 180 mg benadryl liquid gels safe for dogs brands of cetirizine in india simvastatin actavis 20 mg pret comprar viagra no japão accutane roche online cost of tegretol xr can i buy synthroid at gnc cialis 2.5 mg lahore brand name for irbesartan hydrochlorothiazide lipitor 40 mg price comparison obat furosemide 40 mg untuk apa nexium 40 mg costco does healthy man sell real viagra viagra drug store in hongkong flagyl comp 500 mg synthroid hereisthebestin canada


Brainstorm
Services

EDUCATIONAL
MATERIALS


West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

West Chester University

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

Home

Contact

Course Information
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements
  LIT 165 Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assigmments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
  Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #3
  Notes on 'Before the Law'
  Samuel Beckett Links
  Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
  Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
  Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
  Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
  ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #2
  DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
  Suggested Readings: Independent Project
  Utopia/Dystopia Links
  Character Analysis: Brave New World
  Analyzing the Brave New World
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on the Brave New World
  A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Dante Links
  Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
  Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
  Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
  Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
  Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
  Introducing Canto I
  Approaching the Divine Comedy
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
  Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
  The Birthmark
  Leaf By Niggle
  Responses to Leaf By Niggle
  'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
  Analyzing the Mythic Tales
  The Four Functions of Myth
  Myth and Metaphor
  Myth - Links
  Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
  Allegory
  'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
  Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
  Alice In Wonderland
  The Metamorphosis

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
  Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
  Commentary: Following Up Your Response
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources
  What is Argument?
  Parts of an Argument
  Casebook Assignment Sheet
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
  Expressive Writing
  Short Stories About Identity
  Thoughts on Stories About Identity
  Poems About Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Mind-map: Identity

ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
  ENG Q20 Syllabus
  Frederick Douglass Excerpt
  Propaganda Analysis
  How to Detect Propaganda
  George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda Analysis Exercise

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

 

~~ Inferno: Final Destinations ~~


Gustavé Dore

The Eighth Circle, Malebolge
Sins of Fraud

Malebolge, Dante's name for the Eighth Circle, furthers our understanding of the circular, funnel-shaped landscape; it's graded very steeply downward towards a low, central pit. This central pit will be the next and last circle, the very bottom and center of Hell. Before arriving at the center, the pit, the travelers have to make their way into and then up out of 10 deep ditches, or "pouches" ("bolgia"), that make up the eighth circle. Each pouch is devised to punish a particular class of sins, all related to fraud. The contrapasso becomes more and more severe the deeper the travelers descend. At the bottom of Malebolge, the horror is not for faint-hearted readers.

Fraud incurs a severe form of divine justice because it involves the active use of reason, our distinctly human, angelic faculty, for unnatural ends. The sins of incontinence may be less severely punished because they can be considered crimes of passion which don't involve the intellect as directly. Sins of violence can go either way-they are sometimes crimes of passion, sometimes premeditated. Although of course there are exceptions, Dante considers violent crime against one's neighbor likely to involve the least amount of will, whereas violence against God, Art ("God's grandchild"), and Nature would be more likely to involve the will. Fraud, however, always involves what Dante considers a perversion of human intelligence-that is, human intelligence used for evil (rather than angelic) purposes. Fraudulent activities always involve the active use of reason; conscious free will is always in operation.
Since humans, according to the Great Chain of Being, distinguish themselves from the "lower" animals by their superior intelligence, it stands to reason that to corrupt this aspect of yourself, to abuse reason, is to fail most miserably at being a human being, and to be, consequently, the worst possible sinner.

Malebolge is the place where these sinners are punished and it is constructed this way:

Canto XVIII (18)
In Ditch One demons whip the pimps and the seducers as they shuffle along. One of the notable sinners we encounter here is the classical figure of Jason, who features prominently in Greek mythology (Jason and the Golden Fleece, Jason and Medea).

Ditch Two contains the Flatterers who are sunk up to their necks in excrement. The contrapasso is not hard to figure out here: they spewed "b.s." while alive, so now they get to swim in it. Note the way Virgil hurries Dante along out of this pouch… "Let our sight be satisfied" he says, but I'm sure his nose was eager to make a quick getaway, too.

Canto XIX (19)
Ditch Three is reserved for the Simoniacs (sellers of church favors). These sinners are thrust upside down in underground barrels that remind Dante of the baptismal fonts he's seen in church. All we see are the flailing legs of the sinners, who are further tormented by a fire which burns the soles of their feet. Dante is attracted by one pair of squirming legs that seem to be more agitated than the others; this turns out to be Pope Nicholas III. We learn that he will stay in this position until Boniface arrives, then, like the other sinners in this region, he'll be squeezed further down into the underground rock crevices, where other souls have been layered and pressed flat before him, one upon the other for all eternity.

  • Note how, in his address to readers at the beginning of the Canto, Dante expresses full acceptance, full understanding of Divine Justice; in his opening lines he even levels a kind of threat for readers to beware of sinning in this way. He seems to be gaining confidence, getting his bearings. He's not disturbed by the terrible punishment he sees; on the contrary, he seems more than gratified. He can barely restrain himself as he lashes out boldly at Pope Nicholas III
    (p. 155). This outburst marks real progress in Dante's battle against pity. He has no pity for the squirming Pope, but rather enjoys the sight. We infer that Virgil is pleased by this response.
  • Notice, too, how Dante acknowledges Virgil's ability to read him like a book (p. 153). Ever since they've resolved their quarrel, we've been observing Virgil's ability to anticipate Dante's feelings, to guess his innermost thoughts. Here is where Dante openly acknowledges Virgil's uncanny ability to "read him." It's a motif (a recurring event) that appears throughout this circle, as we see Virgil anticipating Dante's thoughts so intimately it almost seems as if he can read Dante's mind. Can he? Why does Dante want to call attention to this? What's the significance of Virgil's ability to tune into Dante's thoughts and feelings so precisely?

Canto XX (20)
In Ditch Four Dante sees the Fortunetellers. These sinners have been contorted and twisted so that their heads face backwards. Because they claimed (falsely) to be able to "see" the future, they must spend eternity seeing only the past. Like commuters sitting backwards on a bus or a train, they seem to be moving backwards, and they can never see ahead, a fitting contrapasso. Here Dante finds Tiresias, the prophet of ancient Greek myth, as well as other false prophets, palm readers, and fortunetellers.

  • The battle against pity resumes as Dante sympathizes with the fortunetellers who are contorted and twisted so that their heads face backward, an ingenious contrapasso for their sins. Virgil has strong words for Dante, seeing him once again making this error in judgment (p. 159).
  • Notice how Virgil launches into a long discourse on the history of his hometown, Mantua. Dante comments that Virgil's speech inspires "certainty," presumably because it is about the past rather than the future. If we want to see clearly, we have to look behind and understand where we've been, not try to "divine" the future through false prophesies, a pagan practice. Notice how Dante, after Virgil's history lesson, says that his mind "turns back" to the fortunetellers and their fate, which is a clever pun. It also re-emphasizes Dante's mistaken orientation in this canto, which has Virgil a little peeved. They are still talking as they exit the pouch, about what we can only imagine. Perhaps Virgil is lecturing Dante on his misplaced sympathies.

Canto XXI - XXII (21 - 22)
Ditch Five holds the Grafters. These are people who use their official offices for profit or personal gain; they make money or win advantage by an abuse of their office. Barratry, specifically, is the buying or selling of church or state office. These sinners are sunk in sticky tar ("pitch"). They are carefully watched by the "Malebranche," a troop of demons armed with razor-sharp hooks and claws with which they jab at sinners who try to rise up from under the pitch.

  • Despite Virgil's rebuke in the last Canto, Dante and Virgil have been chatting like chums. They do not quarrel at all anymore, even when Dante is in the wrong. Virgil has learned not to get haughty with Dante even when he applies corrections. Notice how Virgil is as alert as ever as he moves very quickly to protect Dante from the Malebranche.
  • These two cantos are known for their slapstick comedy. They provide a measure of comic relief from the seriousness that's been and the horror that's to come.
      1. We see one sinner as he rises butt first and the Malebranche laugh at and call it his "Sacred Face," which is a reference to a landmark in the city where he comes from.
      2. Sinners are compared to meat in a stew of tar.
      3. When the demons try to attack Virgil he plays them like a fiddle; there's no real danger or fear involved. Virgil has learned that evoking the heavenly power is all that's needed. There's no ego left.
      4. Despite the heavenly protection, the demons beg to give Dante just "one touch on the rump." Their leader rebukes them.
      5. The leader's name is "Malacoda" or "Bad-Tail," which is funnier to us if we translate it "Bad Ass." Bad-Ass ends Canto 21 with a fart. ("And the leader made a trumpet of his ass.") Timeless bathroom humor?
      6. The troop of Malebranche all have names that are puns on the names of prominent families from an Italian city Dante is parodying.
      7. In Canto 22, a sinner is caught because he's too stupid or too slow to dive away. All we know about him is that he's from Navarre.
      8. The Malebranche rip at the lazy sinner they've caught, but it's not horrifying. Just as he was slow getting away, he's slow to respond to his punishment, which involves ripping out a muscle in his arm. He just "stares at his wound" (p. 181). Then he proceeds to lie through his teeth. He wheels and deals and "sells" them a promise of seven other souls to torment, if they just stand aside and let him whistle. They suspect his cunning and threaten him elaborately, but he convinces them he'll be cunning on their behalf. When he dives away and escapes, the demons are so furious at being tricked they end up fighting among themselves and they end up in the pitch. They are baked to a hard crust before they can be "rescued."
  • The whole experience is likened to an Aesop's fable at the beginning of the next canto: the treacherous frog (the Malebranche) are defeated and the innocent mouse (Virgil and Dante) go free.

Canto XXIII (23)
A somber tone returns as we accompany Dante through Ditch Six, where Dante meets the Hypocrites who plod along weighed down by deceptively painful robes that appear spectacularly beautiful on the outside, but inside are lined with heavy lead. The splendid appearance belies the soul-crushing reality, just as hypocrites deliberately manipulate appearances to fool us about reality.

  • Notice how Dante's intelligence kicks into high gear. He's not the same dumbfounded, confused wanderer we met in Canto I any longer. As he reflects upon the "comic" encounter with the grafters-how it has been like walking through an Aesop's fable (the frog and the mouse)-Dante suddenly realizes that the Malebranche are likely to be hopping mad and looking for vengeance. He suggests getting out of there right away, before there's trouble. Virgil readily agrees, and we see something new here. Dante is the one to suggest the plan of action; Virgil goes along-it's a real sign of progress.
  • Dante's progress is also Virgil's progress, in a way. In this Canto, we get the vivid image of Virgil swiftly and unconsciously, unconditionally lifting Dante away from danger, just as a mother might unthinkingly move to protect her child. Not only is Virgil fatherly, he's motherly, too. His loving care is a source of strength for Dante as they continue through the ditches.
  • Notice how angry Virgil gets when he realizes that the Malebranche lied to him! His anger explodes across his brow, which Dante finds disturbing. There is a little bit of suspense as to how Virgil will react to his anger that leads us into the next Canto.

Canto XXIV - XXV (24 - 25)
Here in Ditch Seven the Thieves are punished by monstrous snakes that surround and attack them. At first they coil like ropes around the hands, binding them fast. Once the hands are bound and the bite inflicted, the sinner explodes into flame and the two melt like hot wax, losing all substance until they are reduced to a pile of ashes. From the flaming ashes, the sinner re-forms and must endure the same torment again and again. Later, the travelers witness a variation: the thief and the serpent "exchange substances," slowing morphing into one another.

  • The long, elaborate pastoral simile that opens Canto 24 recalls Virgil's Eclogues, a little-used form he borrowed from the Greeks and developed masterfully. Pastoral poetry celebrates the simple agricultural life and the virtues of living close to nature; here Dante dabbles in the pastoral form (is there anything he can't do?) to demonstrate how Virgil is able to put his anger aside, how he is able to master that animal emotion, that bestial side of himself-he can conquer his body-something he will urge Dante to accomplish later in the Canto. This is a highly significant moment in the book, I think. Dante is observing Virgil very closely because he's disturbed by the anger that he saw erupting in the last Canto. He's waiting to see what will happen, where this anger will go. As he's looking closely at Virgil he's amazed at what he sees. Virgil conquers his anger. The only way to describe it is to compare it to the pastoral image of a late winter snow melting away at the first sharp, powerful rays of late winter sun. The light of intellect is no match for the animal emotion. Dante is filled with love and admiration for his mentor, his friend. He recalls fondly the "sweet face" that came to rescue him in the dark wood of Canto I. It's a touching moment-both because of Virgil's strength of character and because of Dante's warm response to it. And because Dante has paid such close attention, he's more likely to be able to emulate his noble friend and teacher, who is demonstrating how to have self-control, how to make the body, the emotions, obey the reason, the will.
  • Virgil has to lecture Dante when it seems he's giving into his body, which is tired from a hard climb. Virgil observes that Dante still lacks the strength of will he'll need to complete his journey. He steps in to coach, to motivate. Athletes may want to take note of the passage (p. 199) in which Virgil urges Dante to dig deep and find the soul to go on despite being tired of body. He argues that FAME (honor, reputation, being known for your great deeds) is only won by putting your whole soul into the effort and conquering your body. What is life without fame? A thin wisp of smoke easily dispersed into thin air. To really win fame (a form of earthly immortality to correspond to spiritual immortality), you must conquer your body. Dante responds and really tries to follow Virgil's advice, hiding his tiredness in a stream of speech. Philadelphia sports fans demand no less of their teams than what Virgil demands here.
  • After we see Fucci flaming into ashes, he tells Dante a prophecy "to bring him grief." It's a prediction about Dante's bleak political future. Yet does it bring Dante grief? He never even mentions it! He completely shrugs off the need to tally these worldly gains and losses now. He has his eyes on the prize.
  • At the beginning of Canto 25, there's the indelible image of Fucci giving two "figs" to God, a major blasphemy. He runs away, demons hot in pursuit. It's a small moment, but it's one of those small moments that resound in a big way. Is the cup half empty or half full? The audacity of his protest is funny, but the futility of it is infinitely sad.
  • The horror of the thief who exchanges substance with a serpent is something new in terms of metamorphoses, as Dante can't help boasting. (He's not humble. There'll be no false modesty.) Let Ovid and Lucan (both famous Roman poets of antiquity) come and look on. The contrapasso is pretty obvious: the thieves stole others' substance, so they must lose their own.

Canto XXVI - XXVII (26 - 27)
The Evil Counselors are punished in Ditch Eight, completely encased in flames that perhaps symbolize their guilty consciences. Here Dante sees Ulysses and Diomede, the instigators of the Trojan Horse ploy.

  • The highlight of this canto is the travelers' encounter with Ulysses, the hero of Homer's great epics, the Iliad, which tells the story of Greeks' defeat of Troy, and the Odyssey, which tells the story of Ulysses' adventures as he returns home from the Trojan War.
  • Dante's portrayal of Ulysses is ambiguous, like many of the great memorable characters we meet in the Inferno. Like Francesca, Farinata, and Brunetto Latini, Ulysses' "sin" may be recognized by some readers as a kind of nobility; all of these characters present "traps" for the Pilgrim, who must struggle to understand the nature of their sin, and his own, since many of these characters are not only vividly themselves but also very much complex projections of the various aspects of Dante's own self. Just as we felt sympathy for Francesca the lover, Latini the scholar, and Farinata the proud Florentine, Ulysses gains our sympathy-maybe even more so. As with the previous characters, there are many parallels between Dante and Ulysses to observe. First, understand that Dante invents this episode in the life of Ulysses. He imagines Ulysses' death. It is not in Homer or Virgil. As far as those poets are concerned Ulysses was a great hero who helped the Greeks win the Trojan War; at the end of the Odyssey, he is home with his wife and son. That is where Homer leaves him.
    • Now look at what Dante invents for him, beginning with his speech on p. 221. Note the nobility of character and the noble aim. If Ulysses has a tragic flaw, it must be his wanderlust, his thirst for "experience"-for knowledge of the world which is not his to have. Why can't he have it? Why is it forbidden? Why does his ship sink within sight of Mt. Purgatory?
    • What are the parallels between Dante and Ulysses?
    • Ulysses drowns in the sea that Dante has metaphorically come out of in Canto I (he almost drowned, but didn't). Both characters come within sight of Mt. Purgatory but can't reach it. Both have pursued it by the wrong road. Ulysses "thirst for knowledge" is pagan, and Dante has equally lost the "straight road." When Ulysses spots Purgatory, God sends out a storm to destroy his ship, whereas Dante (metaphorically) swims ashore where Virgil finds him in the dark wood.
    • Both characters have a thirst for knowledge; when he was younger Dante pursued learning with vigor and thought Philosophy was to be his "consolation" after the death of Beatrice. Ulysses eloquently expresses his hungry and very human desire for knowledge and experience.
    • Both are leaders, counselors-but Ulysses supposedly gives false counsel (to his crew) and Dante true (his Commedia).
    • Both are extremely clever (the Commedia is Dante's clever achievement; the Trojan Horse is Ulysses').
  • In Canto 27, we meet Montefeltro, another "false counselor," a contemporary of Dante's this time, a character whose discussion seems to prefigure some of the Machiavellian arguments made in The Prince, a hundred and fifty years or so later. This is interesting because the character would never speak about these secret things if he thought word would get out. These are the dirty little secrets that politicians like to keep hidden from public view, but which Dante exposes here, well before Machiavelli.

Canto XXVIII (28)
Ditch Nine condemns the schismatics-the sowers of religious, political, and family discord. In life these sinners tore at the fabric of a sacred tapestry; their punishment is to experience the same manner of tearing. Dante meets Mahomet (Mohammed), the founder of Islam, one of the "worst" schismatics, responsible for ripping people away from Christianity. Mahomet's is sliced open from his head to his middle, his entrails dangling for all to see. Later Dante finds Bertrand de Born, a French troubadour, or knight, traditionally blamed for the rift between Henry II and his son. Horrifyingly, de Born's head is completely severed; his headless trunk holds its head before him like a lantern, one of the most gruesome scenes in the whole poem.

  • It makes sense that the blood and gore which feature prominently in this canto should be present. Schism leads to feuding and war. There's an immediate focus in this canto on the horrors of war, the physical and mental toll it takes, the insanity that can ensue.
  • The ripped torsos of Mahomet and Ali, his nephew, are vivid and horrifying…Muslims would not like this canto.
  • The severed head at the end of the canto is one of the more gruesome images in the entire Inferno, though we've yet to experience the horrors of Circle 9.
  • Notice that Dante expresses a modified kind of pity at the beginning of the Canto (p. 245, 247), but he'll lose his pity entirely by Circle 9. This is the last of it.

Canto XXIX - XXX (29-30)
In Ditch Ten Dante views the falsifiers-alchemists, evil impersonators ( NOT Elvis impersonators!), counterfeiters, and false witnesses. These sinners, who in life, corrupted all, now are made to endure every sort of corruption and pain. Darkness, dirt, filth, disease, hunger, thirst and noise surround them.

  • Notice Virgil rebukes Dante sternly for his "low desire" to eavesdrop…Dante is so shamed that Virgil forgives him right away.

Canto XXXI (31): An Interlude
Canto 31 is a chance for the travelers to get their bearings. They're about to enter the 9th Circle…they can see, through the mist, darkly. At the bottom of Malebolge a ring of Giants guard the central pit.


THEMATIC OBSERVATIONS


William Blake

If you've been following the "battle against pity" theme, you can note especially:

  • Dante rides the roller coaster through much of the book, feeling pity, feeling disgust, feeling pity once again, but he does make some solid progress, especially by the end.
  • Read the Cantos in circle nine with the battle against pity theme in mind. What do you notice?

If you've been following developments in the relationship between Dante and Virgil, you can note especially:

Virgil and Dante develop a very poignant relationship, one of total trust, deep bonding. Virgil is very parental towards Dante, very nurturing, and very loving. There are many instances in the second half of the book where Virgil carries Dante like a father or mother would carry a child. He is a stern authority when authority is needed-he is always alert and ready to provide the right correction and guidance. Dante stops battling with Virgil completely in the second half of the book; he is completely trusting. The two are so tuned into each other that Virgil can practically read Dante's mind. Some critics have suggested that he actually does read Dante's mind, but I think that is a misreading, myself. It's just that Virgil is so intelligent; he's always one step ahead of Dante, able to anticipate his problems, guess his apprehensions. On one level, he personifies Reason, remember. It is very poignant when, in the ninth circle, Virgil steps back and you hardly hear from him. The pupil has learned the lesson so well that he can travel through the deepest most horrible section of Hell and leave his pity behind (way behind, we see). Dante proves, by the time they leave the ninth circle, that he's learned what he needs to know about the nature of sin, and the nature of sinners, and he's ready to take on the next stage of his journey. As observant readers, we know Virgil's calm example, his poise and his intelligence, have been a big part of Dante's success. Dante never would have made it out of the woods without Virgil. There's a poignant scene in which Dante recalls that scene in the dark woods when Virgil came to rescue him; he remembers Virgil's "sweet face."

Imaginary worlds and their "truth"

Back in Canto XVI, Dante is about to describe Geryon, and he says:

"A man should close his lips, if he's able to,
When faced by truth that has the face of lies,
But here I cannot be silent; reader, I vow
By my Commedia's ines-so may they not fail…"
He goes on to describe the fantastic monster, Geryon. Why this elaborate prelude? Why this justification that what seems like a "lie" is actually "true"?

Again in Canto XXXII, he urges himself not let words "diverge from fact."

What can Dante mean when he insists his story is true, despite the fact that everyone immediately knows it is a "fiction." How is it both "fictional" and "true"? If it isn't true in its surface details-these are fictional characters (no matter how "real") in a fictional setting (no matter how "believable")-what exactly is true about it? What "truth" can it tell? Does it tell the truth?

This gets to the heart of what literature has to offer in its deepest sense-a form of truth, artistic truth. Although the details of the fictional journey might not be "literally" true in the sense that Minos and Geryon and Lucifer and the rest obviously do not "exist," the journey, along with its vivid cast of characters, is "true" allegorically, symbolically, metaphorically. Dante declares that the truth need not reside on the literal level; the poetic image, the metaphor, can convey allegorical, symbolic truth which is equally valid, equally worthwhile. It's what the metaphor suggests about the nature of ourselves and our world that we respond to as "true." In that sense, we might decide Genesis is "true," although we might not believe in a literal "Garden" and a literal "Adam and Eve." This is the same decision we make (about truth) whether we're reading about a fantastic, alternate world like the Inferno or a very realistic world like the one Tim O'Brien evokes in his Vietnam masterpiece, The Things They Carried. Great literature, by providing us with provocative poetic images make us feel, make us think, make us imagine, is always an invitation to truth: the truth about the very things we think of as "human."


Gustavé Dore

 

 

 

 

     

 


Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2005 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
These contents are for educational purposes only.