Dante's Inferno Canto V Analysis

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Katrina Lexa Mr. Lapeyre AP Hum III- 4/5 March 4, 2013 Dante's Inferno Canto V Rhetorical Analysis Inferno was written in the early fourteenth century by Dante Alighieri as part of the Divine Comedy which is Dante's fictional account of himself traveling through the three divine realms: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The fifth canto takes place in the Second Circle of Hell which Dante notes is slightly smaller than the First Circle because he believes Hell is shaped like a funnel with each successive circle being slightly smaller than the one before it. In the Second Circle Dante the Pilgrim and Virgil encounter where the Lustful are tossed around by endless storms. Dante the Poet's purpose in this canto is to establish that love and lust are primal forces that cannot be controlled. Dante's use of bird imagery in Canto V creates vivid images of the souls being buffeted by the storm. Dante compares the sinners in the Second Circle to three different birds. He uses starlings to portray the average, unattractive sinner because they travel in “crowded ranks” meaning that they are common (41). Dante uses cranes to portray the literary and historical figures that are seen in the Second Circle because they are souls regarded with more respect and admiration. However, Dante saved the use of doves specifically for Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta “who go together” and “seem so lightly carried by the wind” (74-75). Along with imagery Dante also uses allusions to many historical and literary characters to prove that lust is not a force that can be controlled. Dante referred to Semiramis who “made license licit in her laws to free her from the scandal she had caused” (56-57). He also references Dido, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Paris, and Tristan. When Dante the Pilgrim heard the names of all of these people “pity seized” him and he called out to a

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