The Theme Of Hell In Dante's Inferno

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Hell. We encounter this word countless times in a day, but I think it’s definition is not as clear to everyone. “The Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), the Greek Hades, and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell” (Hontheim, 1910). Its definition in the Merriam - Webster dictionary is “a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness” (ln. 2). Different religions have their own notions of hell, from frozen landscapes and filthy cells to oceans of burning chemicals. Of the many descriptions in the Bible, a verse, in particular, described hell as “the place of darkness” and “the land of oblivion.”(Psalm 88:12, New International Version). But does one really have to die to experience hell? For me, hell is not necessarily a place sinful people…show more content…
The second idea to establish is the “occupants” of Hell. On one hand, most sources propose that it is a place of the wicked and the sinful. Dante, a Renaissance poet, in the third part of his
Divine Comedy, Inferno, clearly stated who, with what types of sin, go to which circle of hell.
Although the poem was written as an allegory to Italy’s socio-political situation at that time, a number of people really believed that the descriptions stated in the poem are true (Ames, 2006).
The Bible stands that only the sinful are damned to spend eternity in hell. It is clearly stated in
Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral,
those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (NIV). Greek and Roman mythology, as well as other non-Christian religions, however, not only presented hell as a final resort of the sinful dead, but also an abode of some of their gods.
On the other hand, I believe that hell, following Hontheim’s definition that it is “a state of the greatest and complete misfortune” (1910), isn’t only exclusive for those who have sinned.
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War veterans, bombing victims, abused children, and the victims of the Jewish genocide during the Nazi period are among those whom we can say have experienced hell on Earth. A recent story is that of a family in Australia who has experienced a firestorm. “Within seconds, shops, schools, and churches were overtaken by the inferno” (Morris, 2013). The family survived by staying dipped into the ocean.
Their pain would have been incomparable to what others thought they felt.
“What the hell?” and “Oh to hell with it!” are just some of the expressions we hear on a daily basis. “Almost every culture or religion in the world describes the existence of some sort of underworld or hell ... and while each is unique in its own way, there are elements that are strikingly common across them” (Hoebee, 2013). What’s common, as we all see, is the presence of torment and misery in each one. To me, however, we need not look into unworldly places or pits of fire to describe hell. We are the ones who can create it through the emotional misery we are all susceptible to in the chaotic world we live
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