Essay on Sensual Imagery Of Dante 's Inferno

1020 Words Sep 27th, 2014 5 Pages
Sensual Imagery in Dante’s Inferno
Sensual imagery is utilized in Dante’s Inferno to enhance the setting and atmosphere of the novel. Sight is one the key senses used to create a realistic and vivid setting in the dark and intense world of Dante’s Hell. In Canto thirteen, Dante Alighieri begins with a detailed description of the woods in the Second Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, as he explains that the wood was “Not foliage green, but of a dusky colour,/Not branches smooth, but gnarled and intertangled,/Not apple-trees were there, but thorns with poison” (Alighieri 85). The imagery used in this scene describes the place where those who committed suicide reside. Each line of the stanza draws a comparison to an ideal setting-such as green foliage, smooth branches, and fruit-to the horrid setting that is the reality in Hell. The contrast in settings is emphasized through sensual imagery, which in turn creates a more depressing, lonely setting. Alighieri also uses sensual imagery in the form of sound to enhance the setting, as when the Sullen are “gurgling in their throats,/ For with unbroken words they cannot say it” (Alighieri 50). The imagery of the sullen souls drowning in the black river, unable to speak, creates a depressing setting, where helplessness and powerlessness are tangible. The sounds of the souls drowning in the river detail the horrors of Hell, and the cruel setting Dante finds himself in. Smell also plays a large role in the setting of Dante’s Hell. When…

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