Violence Atrocity Essay

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Sean Michael Nolan Dr. Michael Calabrese English 200 A 25 November 2011 The Simple Atrocity of Violence In Dante’s The Inferno Hell is an awesome place. The simplicity of the word awesome alone does no justice to the allegorical and literal masterpiece of onion like layers in which Dante employs to illustrate his Hell. As Dante goes through his journey, being led by Virgil, he peels back the layers and the manifestations of punishment which ensue from our worldly sins. These circles represent a hierarchy of sin induced magnitude. The punishments, though increasing as they approach the frozen hell floor, also mirror in an ironic way the actual categorization of the sins. At the forefront of each circle of hell dwells the symbolic manifestation or in literal terms the very creature which represents and guards that level. In structure the guardians are the actual physical symbols of their level in which they guard and punish; Cerberus guards the circle of gluttony, the Giants the final circle, and Satan himself lays in wait frozen to the chest upside down deep within the world. Many of these circles are vague and ambiguous with representations and creatures whose purpose and alignment within the circle can be unclear but one is well depicted. One circle within the layers of hell is drawn clearly with both symbolism abounding and literal conceptions in stark contrast as to define with dark detail a clerical message; to live by the sword is to die by the sword, the circle of violence guarded by the gruesome Minotaur. In the Inferno the passage depicting the seventh circle of hell, which is the circle of violence, begins with the introduction of its guardian, the Minotaur. After rebuking the creature, Virgil and Dante continue to climb down the treacherous mountainside until coming into view of the full seventh circle. Virgil and Dante come upon the river of
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