Deceit and Sexual Women's Sexual Sins in Dante's Inferno Essay

1520 Words Feb 7th, 2011 7 Pages
Deceit and Sexual Women’s Sexual Sins in Dante’s Inferno

Dante’s representations of women and feminine sexuality in the Inferno show contrasts within the various natures of women and their sexuality. His era’s vision of the perfect woman one that idealized beauty, passiveness and purity is represented by his life long love Beatrice. This ideal and its representation in Beatrice are contrasted with the dark depictions of women, their sexual sins, devious devices, and evil act, which Dante encounters in hell. This paper will argue that the severity of condemnation in hell for women’s sexual sins is related to the increasing degrees of deceit. Dante’s perspective of the evil side of femininity becomes apparent from the opening
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On their deaths Paulo was a fifty-year old father of two sons and Francesca was a mother of a nine year old daughter[x]. This love was clearly more than a moment of weakness or a whirlwind romance because it clearly was a lengthy affair. The start of this relationship was based on deception and they may believe that this is a sin of love, and they would be naively deceiving themselves by accepting little to no responsibility for their actions. Their greatest desire in life was to be together in a whirlwind love; ironically, this has become their fate. Dante the pilgrim moves on through the layers of hell, seeing or meeting other women who represent other degrees of sin. Entering the eighth circle of hell, the circle of frau, in Canto 18, he enters the second malebolige of this level, reserved for the flatters. Here, he sees a woman scratching and scraping herself while she swims in a grotesque pool of excrement. Virgil informs him that: “It is the whore Thaius who told her lover When he sent to ask her, ‘Do you thank me much?’ ‘Much? Nay, past all believing!’ Canto 18 lines 131-133[xi]
Thais once was a beautiful courtesan, but she was a woman of degraded sexuality, who prostituted herself with both her body and her speech. She was a whore, who teased, seduced and sold herself to many men for her own gains. Her greatest sin that consigned her to wallow in this pool of feces,

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