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Logue 1

Kaylyn Logue
Mr. Munoz
English D.C., Per. 5
22 September 2014
Inferno Style
The change in style is appropriate due to the events in Canto XIX. In the Third Pouch of
the Eighth Circle of Hell, the Simonists are found. Pope Nicholas, who is being tortured in this
circle, mistakenly confuses Dante for Pope Boniface VIII. This is not only ironic because Dante
and Pope Boniface VIII were but, but it also helps reveal that Pope Boniface is destined for Hell.
This revelation leads to Hells other expected guest, Clement V; Dante refers to him as a second
Jason. By Dante putting his worst enemies in Hell and being able to move on to the next circle,
he was able to gain his confidence and firm authority because he had metaphorically defeated his
After leaving the Third Pouch of the Eighth Circle, Dante provides metaphors and
symbols in the next Canto symbolizing him and his journey. In Canto XX, the story of the
transformation of Tiresias is told (XX. 40-41). Dantes life can be compared to the story of
Tiresias, because Dante encounters change as well. Dantes change however, does not change his
appearance like Tiresias, but instead his way of thinking. The city of Mantuas history is also
highlighted in Canto XX. Although the people of Mantua lost their leader Manto, they still came
together and built a city over her dead body (XX. 91). Just like the people of Mantua, Dante
must bury his past and grow stronger because of it. In Canto XX is also where the Diviner,
Astrologers, and Magicians are found. Because they were so focused on trying to see and change
the future, they must forever be looking and walking backwards. This certain torture is symbolic

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because from this canto on, Dante is no longer looking back at his mistakes and enemies. The
symbols found in the canto following Dantes encounter with his enemies shows that he has
undergone change; this change results in his need for authority.
With Dantes newly found confidence and authority, his treatment towards souls in Hell
changed. In Canto XXIII, Dante believes that the demons feel mocked since he and Virgil
escaped from their group. This shows that instead of souls affecting his emotions, Dante is
affecting theirs now. Dante also become negligent of the souls in Hell; he treats them as
insignificant. Dante begins to treat souls different in the Sixth Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell.
During Dante's conversation with the Friars, he abruptly stops and forgets about them when he
sees a soul whose torture intrigues him. This shows that Dante is no longer wasting his time just
on any tormented soul. In Canto XXV, Dante does not pay any attention to three newly arrived
souls until a snake starts to wrap around them. This exemplifies Dante high standards with
regards to whom he pays his attention to. The change in style also marks the beginning of souls
showing respect to Dante in Hell. Vanni Fucci, who is in the Seventh Pouch of the Eighth Circle,
acts as if Dante is his superior. Vanni Fucci shows the great amount of humiliation he feels when
he says, I suffer more because youve caught me in this (XXIV. 133-134). This shows that the
shame he feels is worse than his torture of being bit by a snake, bursting into flames, and then
reliving the process all over again. The reader also sees Fucci as an inferior to Dante when he
says, I cant refuse to answer what you ask (XXIV. 136). This statement by Vanni Fucci shows
that he feels an obligation to do what Dante requests of him. Dante also starts to physically abuse
the souls in Hell, especially in Canto XXXII. Since Dante feels as though he is above all souls in
Hell, he begins to shows violence towards them. While walking by the souls frozen in the ice
Dante says, I struck my foot hard in the face of one (XXXII. 78). This shows that Dante did

Logue 3
not accidentally kick the soul, but he did it in a way to ensure he caused the soul pain. Only a
few lines from this first incident, Dante again causes physically pain on another soul. Dante rips
out a souls hair when he refuses to reveal his name to Dante. These actions not only show Dante
as violent, but as demanding as well. Dante then begins to blackmail a soul in the Third Ring of
the Ninth Circle; he promises to clear the frozen tears from the soul if he confesses his name.
The soul reveals himself as Fra Alberigo, but Dante does not follow through with his side of the
deal and says, it was courtesy to show him rudeness (XXXII. 149-150). By Dante thinking he
deserved the upmost respect from the souls in Hell, he believed he could treat them however he
From the beginning of the Inferno, Dante treats Virgil with the upmost respect. This however
changes after Dante alters his style of writing. Dante begins to treat Virgil with less respect and
as inferior. Dante starts to give orders and provide insight to Virgil. This is seen when Dante
speaks up to Virgil and says, they [Malebranche] are after us; I so imagine them, I hear them
now (XXIII. 23-24). This is the first example that the readers see Dante speaking reason before
Virgil does. Dante also begins to demand Virgil around; he tells Virgil they need to move farther
down the wall because he says, I hear and cannot understand, so I see down, but cannot
distinguish nothing (XXIV. 73-75). This situation shows that Dante was beginning to use more
logic in order to solve his problems; he is no longer as fearful as well. Since Dante started to
believe he has more deserved authority, he starts giving commands to Virgil. Dante can first be
seen as demanding towards Virgil when he says to Virgil, tell him [Vanni Fucci] not to slip
away and ask what sin has thrust him here (XXIV. 127-128). Dante also tells Virgil in Canto
XXVI to not forbid my waiting here until the flame with horns approaches us (XXVI. 66-68).
Dante also begins to no longer ask for permission, but to make commands at Virgil. Dante scolds

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Virgil to be quiet when he says, so that my guide might be alert, I raised my finger up from chin
to nose (XXV. 44-45) Dante also begins to use Virgil as an object. Dante escaped the cool
winds behind Virgil because there was no other shelter (XXXIV. 8-9). This shows that he was
not turning to Virgil to find comfort because he was afraid, but rather as an object to avoid the
wind. These action not only help the readers see a reversal in roles between the two main
characters, but as well as the change in authority for Dante over Virgil.
In the beginning of the Inferno, Dante shows his character being accepted and apart of the
great poets Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan, and Virgil. Later in the story however, Dante is no
longer just classifying himself as a great poet, but he puts himself above them. The well-known
and highly respected poet Ovid, whom Dante draws inspiration from for the Inferno, is put down
by Dante. First Dante tells the reader to forget about Ovids story about Cadmus and Arethus.
Dante says to the reader, Let Ovid be silent (XXV. 97). Dante then continues on to say, I do
not envy him (XXV). This exhibits the change in Dantes character because he was constantly
referencing Ovids stories throughout the Inferno. However, Dante says he does not look up to
Ovid because he never did transmute two natures the way Dante was able to (XXV. 100-101).
By criticizing the work of Ovid, the reader is able to conclude that Dante not only has the
deserved authority of the famous poets, but he is more creative than them.
Due to the authority Dante believes hes entitled to, Dante begins to act arrogant. Right after
the change of style in Canto XX, Dante begins to act conceited by exclaiming that he is well
aware of the aspects of Hell; Dante says, I was already well prepared to stare below, into the
depth that was disclosed, where tears of anguished sorrow bathed the ground (XX. 4-6). This
image would cause anyone to be disturbed, but by saying that Dante is showing that he is no
longer affected by the horrendous surrounding the souls must live in for eternity. Dante shows

Logue 5
his dominance by stating that he can make a soul famous on earth if they just reveal their name
to him. In Canto XXXII, when Dante is conversing with a soul he says he can be precious to
you [the soul] if you want fame (XXXII. 91-92). By making this promise to not only this soul,
but others, Dante implies that his writing will be popular and well-known.
Dante also begins to give the reader direct advice in the Inferno. In Canto XX, Dante
says to the reader, may God so let you, reader, gather fruit, from what you read (XX. 19-20).
By saying this, Dante is showing that his poetry is so complex that the only way to fully
understand it is through the help of God. Dante is also showing authority over the reader, by
implying that their simple human mind will not be able to fully grasp and understand Dantes
writing. Again Dante shows authority over the reader by advising the reader not to wonder
although he says, I who saw it can hardly accept it (XXV. 47-48). By Dante telling the reader
not to question what he writes, although he questioned it, he is indicating that the reader does not
analysis things like he does; again the reader is seen as inferior in knowledge to Dante. By
talking directly to the reader, Dante can exhibit his great knowledge over them.
Dante is also able to establish his authority by showing the growth he has made during
his journey. Dante says, I am reassured by confidence, that good companion, heartening a man
beneath the breastplate of its purity (XXVIII. 115-117). By indicating that his heart is pure and
he has a good conscience, Dante establishes authority by being like Christ. Dante also
exemplifies his authority by observing and making conclusions about his surroundings. Dante
approaches Virgil asking him, cant you see how those demons [Malebranche] grind their
teeth? (XXI. 131). By Dante recognizing that the demons are evil, he is showing that he has
become well aware of what good and evil looks life. The change in style helped show Dantes
greater knowledge, which led to him believing he had great authority.