The Importance Of Hunger In Dante's Inferno

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Register to read the introduction… (Canto 1, ll. 97-99)

This is Virgil's first instruction to Dante about the barrier that greediness presents in attaining salvation. The hungry wolf is not natural; she is a perversity, a desire for more than the satiation of physical need. Envy, Virgil tells Dante, has unleashed the wolf on mankind (l. 111). Dante, the Pilgrim makes his journey and he learns of greed and insatiate hunger through the metaphor of the wolf. In the downward descent, the sinners increasingly become more wolf-like as greed and hunger takes over more and more of their humanity.

As Dante and Virgil move forward into the Fourth Circle where the prodigals and the miserly are punished, Plutus, the god of wealth appears and gets shouted down by Virgil, as the "cursed wolf of Hell" (Canto 7, l. 9). This description correlates Plutus and the desire for wealth with insatiate hunger of the wolf. Encountering the prodigals and the misers who ?could not judge with moderation when it came to spending? (ll. 41-42), Virgil observes that they have ?barking voices? (l. 43). Obsession with wealth becomes an attribute of the devouring, perversity of the wolf as those who cannot act with moderation begins to sound like a wolf.

Continuing downward into Hell,
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(l. 75). Does Dante imply cannibalism or is there something more in this telling? Does Ugoliono?s hunger for power and revenge, a hunger more powerful than the redeeming grief for the suffering of his starved children, ultimately become the driving force that turns him from mere sinner to wolf-like beast? Dante the poet?s imagery of a descent into greedy wolfishness gives an ultimate vision of the degradation of the human sinner into the perverse beast. The wolves of winter dominate the landscape of the Inferno as the howling of the insatiate sinners around the walls of the Hell echoes through the Dante?s

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