Imagery in Dante's Inferno: Examples & Recurring Images

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Allegory in Dante's Inferno

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Vivid Imagery
  • 0:52 Demons & Sinners
  • 2:09 Tears
  • 3:12 Stars
  • 4:17 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kelly Mallari

I have taught Language Arts for 4 years and served as a Professor for ENG 101 and GLS for more than 3 years. I am a licensed teacher with a B.A. in English Literature, International and Global Studies, and Religious Studies. I have a M.A. in Global Studies.

When you think of inferno, no doubt you think of intense fire. ''Dante's Inferno'' explores the ultimate inferno - hell - in detail that leaves readers feeling like they have traversed through hell themselves. Find out how imagery in ''Dante's Inferno'' leaves you spellbound and captivated with every line.

Vivid Imagery

Imagery, which is the literary device that uses vivid description to appeal to readers' senses, is often used by authors to captivate audiences and propel them into a world of fiction. For Dante Alighieri, the writer of Dante's Inferno, imagery is an understatement for what is a figurative hell. Utilizing imagery to appeal to every possible sense, Alighieri creates a vivid and painful hell that protagonist Dante must traverse through. Within the novel, reoccurring images heighten the gruesome splendor of the figurative hell that Dante becomes consumed in.

There are several significant images in Dante's Inferno, many of which are repeated throughout each realm that Dante visits to tie in the motif of pain and suffering. Let's look at them one at a time.

Demons & Sinners

The description of the demons and the sinners in hell is one of the most enthralling and stomach turning images ever written in literature. In each Canto, which is a division in long form poetry, particularly from Dante's era, Dante uses a plethora of descriptions to describe the agony and pain experienced.

In one example, Dante remarks:

And as they scrubbed and clawed themselves, their nails
drew down the scabs the way a knife scrapes bream
or some other fish with even larger scales

This example highlights the sheer chaotic nature of hell, the torment, agony, and excruciating torture that the demons were forced to endure consistently. The image of a knife scraping against a fish scale creates a physically alarming reaction for readers, creating the atmosphere of perpetual agony that the author no doubt wanted to achieve.

In another scene, Dante notices a collection of demons that appear most foul. He states:

These miscreants, who never were alive,
were naked, and were stung exceedingly
By gadflies and by hornets that were there.

Prior to this statement, Dante actually declared the monsters to be wretches that were hateful to God. This strong language and vivid descriptions clearly show the depraved nature of the monsters suffering in Hell.

Tears

In Dante's Inferno, tears are a symbolic and comparative image that show the remorse and utter lack of divine grace in Hell. The demons often shed tears as their souls are twisted in never-ending torture.

In one particular Canto, Dante states:

These did their faces irrigate with blood
Which, with their tears commingled, at their feet
By the disgusting worms was gathered up.

The demons would weep and recount their misery to Dante, who remarked at how pitiful the sight was. In another Canto, Dante claimed:

These land of tears gave forth a blast of wind,
and fulminated a vermilion light,
which overmastered in me every sense

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support