The Inferno – Dante Free Writing Sample

In the year 1300 AD, on Good Friday, Dante finds himself straying from the right path and entering the Dark Wood of Error. From this place, he sees the Sun shining on the Mount of Joy, which represents Divine Illumination. Dante tries to climb the mountain but is stopped by three creatures that symbolize worldly vices: the Leopard represents Malice and Fraud, the Lion represents Violence and Ambition, and the She-Wolf represents Incontinence. Just as he starts losing hope, the shade of the Roman poet Virgil appears to him, symbolizing Human Reason.

Virgil, sent by Beatrice from Heaven, guides Dante to follow a challenging path through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven to overcome the beasts. By journeying through these realms, Dante can recognize and renounce sin before basking in God’s divine light. Agreeing to the task, Dante embarks on the journey with Virgil. They enter Hell through its Gate inscribed with the famous warning: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” In the Vestibule, they witness the torments endured by opportunists and those who remained neutral in the Rebellion of the Angels.

The individuals mentioned in the text do not have an official place in either Hell or Heaven, as their actions during their lifetimes were neither good nor bad enough to earn them a spot in either realm. Forever, they are destined to chase after a banner that is always just out of their reach, while also being stung by wasps. The wounds caused by these stings produce blood and pus that serve as a feast for worms and maggots. It should be noted that the punishments in Inferno are always a fitting consequence for the sins committed by the sinners. The presence of wasps represents the sinners’ guilty consciences, while worms and maggots symbolize their moral filth. The Poets hope to be transported across the river Acheron by Charon, the boatman. However, Charon realizes that Dante is still alive and therefore refuses to grant them passage. After Virgil presents a compelling argument for Dante’s case, Charon reluctantly agrees to ferry them across. Dante, overwhelmed by fear, faints and only regains consciousness when he finds himself on the opposite bank.

Upper Hell is divided into five circles, each progressively smaller and containing fewer sinners than the previous circle. The first circle, called Limbo, is reserved for those who committed the least serious sins. It is where unbaptized children and virtuous pagans are placed. Among the souls in Limbo is Virgil, who lived a decent life but died before Christ’s arrival (according to Dante’s belief, acceptance of Christ was a requirement for entry into Heaven). In Limbo, these souls are not tormented but are condemned to spend eternity without hope. Dante and Virgil remain in Limbo to converse with other renowned poets from the ancient world.

(Dante must have possessed immense pride to imagine himself walking alongside Homer and Ovid.) Upon entering the second circle, the Poets encounter Minos, the beast who judges and assigns damnation to each soul according to their appropriate level of Hell. However, Virgil manages to persuade him to allow their passage. (Dante frequently combines pagan mythology with Christian beliefs within his depiction of Hell.) Subsequently, they witness the tormented souls of the carnal, who are perpetually swept about by tempests, just as they allowed their rationality to be overcome by passion during their lives. It is here that they encounter Paolo and Francesca, who were murdered by Francesca’s husband before they had a chance to repent for their sin of adultery. Upon hearing their tragic story, Dante faints once more. After regaining consciousness, Dante and Virgil proceed into the third circle, where revolting snowstorms and freezing rain descend and form slush beneath their feet. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, stands guard over the souls of the gluttonous as he chews on them.

In this passage, Ciacco, one of the gluttons, who is from Florence like Dante, prophesizes Dante’s future exile. It is later revealed that the damned have the ability to see into the future, but are unable to perceive present events. This implies that their powers will be useless on Judgement Day, the last day. Moving forward, the monster Plutus guards the fourth circle, but Virgil successfully persuades him to allow Dante and himself passage. This suggests that Human Reason can always triumph over any hellish obstacle. The fourth circle is inhabited by hoarders and wasters who are in a perpetual state of conflict with one another. The reason they find themselves in Hell is because their obsession with wealth caused them to extinguish the divine light within them.

At midnight on Good Friday, the Poets move to the fifth circle known as the Marsh of Styx. This circle represents Upper Hell and is the final one. In this marsh, the souls of the wrathful fight each other while the sullen souls remain buried under the slime. Standing at the marsh’s edge, the Poets encounter Phlegyas, who is the ferryman of Styx. Initially mistaking them for new souls to torment, Phlegyas hesitates to grant them passage but is persuaded otherwise by Virgil.

The passengers are transported to Dis, which is the capital of Hell and serves as the barrier between Upper and Lower Hell. The entryway to Dis is protected by Rebellious Angels, whom Virgil is unable to overcome due to the limitations of Human Reason in confronting Evil. Therefore, he offers a prayer for divine assistance. Virgil’s anxiety intensifies due to the presence of Three Infernal Furies, which represent feelings of regret. In order to immobilize them, he summons Medusa and instructs Dante to avert his gaze and close his eyes so as not to witness this malevolence. Virgil goes as far as using his own hands to cover Dante’s eyes for added protection.

Suddenly, a Heavenly Messenger arrives with a powerful storm that represents God’s power. The Heavenly Messenger opens the gates of Dis and then goes back to Heaven. The Poets are now able to enter the sixth circle, where the souls of the heretics (specifically, those who rejected the notion of the soul’s immortality) are detained in iron tombs heated by fires. These tombs will permanently close on Judgement Day, sealing the heretics in eternal death.

In the sixth circle, the Poets encounter Farinata degli Uberti, a political enemy of Dante who died before Dante was born. Dante engages in a political discussion with him and also encounters Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, the father of his friend Guido Cavalcanti.

In the sixth circle, they come across rubble that used to be a cliff until it was destroyed during the earthquake when Christ died. The smell emanating from the seventh circle is so strong that they take refuge behind a tomb to get used to it. During this time, Virgil explains the different sections of Lower Hell. It is currently two hours before sunrise on Holy Saturday. (Interestingly, Virgil can track the movement of the stars, which cannot be seen in Hell because they represent God’s shining hope and virtue.) While descending the rocks, Virgil manages to deceive the Minotaur, who attempts to block their path. Inside the seventh circle, the souls of those who were violent towards their neighbors are submerged in a river of blood.

In this place, numerous tyrants and warmongers receive their punishment. The river is guarded by centaurs who intimidate the poets attempting to cross it. Nonetheless, Virgil persuades Nessus, the centaur, to transport them. Nessus places them in the second round of the seventh circle known as the Wood of Suicides. Here, souls are imprisoned in trees that are constantly devoured by Harpies, leading them to bleed.

In the Wood, there are souls of those who were violent against themselves being pursued by packs of dogs that tear them apart. Moving to round three of the seventh circle, there are blasphemers (violent against God), sodomists (violent against Nature, the child of God), and usurers (violent against Art, the child of Nature and thus the grandchild of God) who are being scalded by fire raining down on a plain made of burning sand. This unnatural rain serves as a suitable punishment for their unnatural actions. Dante walks alongside a stream flowing across the plain and engages in conversation with Ser Brunetto Latini, an author whom Dante greatly admired and learned various literary devices from. As they approach the waterfall that descends from the seventh to the eighth circle, three Florentines rush over to Dante and express their concerns about Florence’s current state of degradation. Upon reaching the top of the waterfall, Dante takes off a cord from his waist and drops it over the edge to signal the arrival of a monstrous creature.

The individual identified as Geryon, referred to as the Monster of Fraud, will carry them down the cliff. While Virgil communicates with Geryon for their safe passage, Dante observes the souls of the usurers. Dante witnesses them huddled on the brink of the fiery plain, wearing purses displaying the coats of arms of notable Florentine families around their necks. After rejoining Virgil, Dante joins him on Geryon’s back and together they soar around the waterfall and descend down the cliff.

Geryon places them in the eighth circle, Malebolge (also known as Evil Ditches), which is made up of ten bolgias. In these bolgias, those who are guilty of simple fraud receive their punishment. To help the Poets traverse the ditches, there are stone dikes serving as bridges between them. The first bolgia is where panderers and seducers are confined, enduring eternal lashes from horned demons. The souls of flatterers are submerged in excrement.

In the third bolgia, the souls of simoniacs, who corrupted the Church for profit, are tightly packed upside-down inside tube-like holes in the ground. Their feet are scorched by the burning fire while they are forcefully pushed deeper into the holes to make room for new sinners. This method of punishment, reminiscent of how baptismal fonts were constructed in Northern Italy during Dante’s time, serves as a mockery of the sacrament of baptism. Being a devout Catholic, Dante passionately condemns these sinners before ascending with Virgil to the fourth bolgia. From a bridge overlooking the fourth bolgia, they witness the souls of fortunetellers and diviners who desired forbidden knowledge of the future. These souls have their heads turned backwards on their shoulders, forever unable to see ahead and doomed to walk backwards for eternity. Moving on to the fifth bolgia, the souls of grafters reside in a pool of boiling pitch, mercilessly guarded by demons. If these souls attempt to rise above the surface, they are viciously torn apart by grappling hooks.

Dante encounters dangerous demons during his journey, posing the only physical threat to him. This is possibly because Dante was wrongly exiled from Florence on charges of grafting. Virgil protects Dante by hiding him behind rocks while negotiating with Malacoda, the leader of the demons. Virgil secures their passage to the next bridge since the original one is destroyed. Two clever sinners trick two demons into falling into pitch, allowing Dante and Virgil to escape during the ensuing chaos. To evade pursuit by the demons, the Poets slide down the bank of the sixth bolgia for concealment.

In this passage, the Poets witness the souls of hypocrites who are burdened by their beautiful yet heavy lead robes, representing their guilt. Malacoda deceived them about a bridge, so they must climb the opposite bank to leave the seventh bolgia. As they cross the bridge, they see thieves trapped by reptiles that bind their hands and pierce their veins. Some thieves appear as humans while others take on reptilian forms. Dante watches as a reptile and human exchange forms. The eighth bolgia is inhabited by evil counselors who misused their gifts for evil and are consumed by flames.

Dante engages in conversation with a flame and discovers that it contains the souls of Ulysses and Diomede, two soldiers from the Trojan war. He listens to Ulysses recounting his final journey. Dante also talks to a lord of Romagna, lamenting the tragic conditions in that region. They proceed to the ninth bolgia where they witness the presence of the sowers of discord.

Due to the separation of what God intended to be united, individuals are attacked and torn apart by a demon wielding a bloody sword. They are categorized into three groups: those who promote religious discord (with Mohammed being the main figure), those who sow political discord, and those who sow discord among relatives.

Virgil escorts Dante across the bridge that spans bolgia ten, enabling them to witness the falsifiers. These wretched souls endure diverse forms of corruption, such as disease, filth, darkness, and stench, which mirror the societal damage caused by their falsifications during their earthly existence. The falsifiers are categorized into four groups: alchemists (who falsified substances), evil impersonators (who falsified identities), counterfeiters (who falsified currency), and false witnesses (who falsified testimony). Dante witnesses a heated dispute between two of the falsifiers, but is swiftly reprimanded by Virgil.

The Central Pit, the final circle of Hell known as Cocytus, is approached by the Poets. Guarded by half-buried Titans, these earthly passions serve as symbols for men to overcome. Assisting the Poets, one of the Titans lowers them into Cocytus on his palm. Cocytus consists of a frozen lake where souls guilty of treachery against their special bonds are frozen to varying degrees. This icy lake is divided into four concentric rings: Cana (housing the treacherous against relatives, named after biblical Cain), Antenora (for those who betrayed their country, named after the Trojan betrayer), Ptolomea (named after Ptolemaeus Maccabeus who killed his father-in-law, for treachery against guests and hosts), and Judecca (reserved for those who betrayed their masters, named after Judas Iscariot).

The center of Hell holds Satan, who is desperately flapping his massive wings to break free from the icy clamp. His three twisted faces, a deliberate mockery of the Holy Trinity, devour one sinner each – Judas, Cassius, and Brutus. In order to leave Hell, the Poets descend down Satan’s hairy sides until they cross the point of gravity and emerge at the Mount of Purgatory on the opposite side of the globe, where they can finally behold the stars.

Government Intervention Of The Internet

During the past decade, our society has become based solely on the ability to move large amounts of information across large distances quickly. Computerization has influenced everyones life. The natural evolution of computers and this need for ultra-fast communications has caused a global network of interconnceted computers to develop. This global net allows a person to send E-mail across the world in mere fractions of a second, and enables even the common person to access information world-wide. With advances such as software that allows users with a sound card to use the Internet as a carrier for long distances voice calls and video conferencing, this network is the key to the future of the knowledge society. At present, this net is the epitome of the first amendment: free speech. It is a place where people can speak their mind without being reprimanded for what they say, or how they choose to say it. The key to the world-wide success of the Internet is its protection of free speech, not only in America, but not in other countries where free speech is not protected by a constitution. To be found on the Internet is a huge collection of obscene graphics, Anarchists cookbooks and countless other things that offend some people. With over 30 million Internet users in the U.S. alone everything is bound to offend someone. The newest wave of laws floating through law making bodies around the world threatens to stifle this area of spontaneity. Recently, Congress has been considering passing laws that will make it a crime punishable by jail time to send vulgar language over the net, and to export encryption software. No matter how small, any attempt at government intervention in the Internet will stifle the greatest communication innovation of this century. The government wants to maintain control over this new form of communication, and they are trying to use the protection of children as a smoke screen to pass laws that will allow them to regulate and censor the Internet, while banning techniques that could eliminate the need for regulation. Censorship of the Internet threatens to destroy its freelance atmosphere, while wide spread encryption could help prevent the need for government intervention.

The Internet differs from broadcasting media in that one cannot just happen upon a vulgar site without first entering a complicated address, or following a link from another source. The Internet is much more like going into a bookstore and choosing to look at an adult magazines.(Miller 75).

Jim Exon, a democratic senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decency bill regulating the Internet. If the bill passes, certain commercial servers that post pictures of unclad beings, like those run by Playboy or Penthouse, would of course be shut down immediately or risk prosecution. The same goes for any amateur web site that features nudity, sex talk, or rough language. Posting any dirty words in a Usenet discussion group, which occurs routinely, could make one liable for a $50,000 fine and six months in jail. Even worse, if a magazine that commonly runs some of those nasty words in its pages, The New Yorker for instance, decided to post its contents on-line, its leaders would be held responsible for a $100,000 fine and two years in jail. Why does it suddenly become illegal to post something that has been legal for years in print? Exons bill apparently would also criminalize private mail, I can call my brother on the phone and say anythingbut if I say it on the Internet, its illegal(Levy 53). Congress, in their pursuit of regulations, seems to have over looked the fact that the majority of the adult material on the Internet comes from overseas. Although many U.S. government sources helped fund Arpanet, the predecessor to the Internet, they no longer control it. Many of the new Internet technologies, including the World Wide Web, have come from overseas. There is no clear boundary between information held in the U.S. and information stored in other countries. Data held in foreign computers is just as accessible as data in America, all it takes is the click of a mouse to access. Even if our government tried to regulate the Internet, we have no control over what is posted in other countries, and we have no practical way to stop it.

Recently, a major university attempted to regulate what types of Internet access its students had, with results reminiscent of a 1960s protest. A research associate at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study of pornography on the schools computer networks. Martin Rimm put together quite a large picture collection (917,410 images) and he also tracked how often each image had been downloaded (a total of 6.4 million). A local court had recently declared pictures of similar content obscene, and the school feared they might be held responsible for the content of its network. The school administration quickly removed access to all these pictures, and to the newsgroup where most of this obscenity is suspected to have come from. A total of 80 newsgroups were removed, causing a large disturbance among the student body, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, all of whom felt this was unconstitutional. After only half a week, the college had backed down, and restored the newsgroups. This is a tiny example of what may happen if the government tries to impose censorship (Elmer-Dewitt 102).

As the Internet continues to grow throughout the world, more governments may try to impose their views onto the rest of the world through regulations and censorship. It will be a sad day when the world must adjust its views to comform to that of the prudish regulatory government. If too many regulations are inacted, then the Internet as a tool will become nearly useless, and the Internet as a mass communication device and a place for freedom of mind and thoughts, will become non existent. The users, servers, and parents of the world must regulate themselves, so as not to force government regulations that may stifle the best communication instrument in history. If encryption catches on and becomes as widespread as Zimmerman predicts it will, then there will no longer be a need for the government to meddle in the Internet, and the biggest problem will work itself out. The government should rethink its approach to the censorship and encryption issues, allowing the Internet to continue to grow and mature.

Bibliography:Works CitedEmler-Dewitt, Philip. Censoring Cyberspace: Carnegie Mellons Attempt to Ban Sex from its Campus Computer Network Sends A Chill Along the Info Highway.

Time 21 Nov. 1994; 102-105Levy, Steven. The Encryption Wars: is Privacy Good or Bad? Newsweek 24April. 1995; 55-57Miller, Michael. Cybersex Shock. PC Magazine 10 October. 1995; 75-76.

Ethan Frome-Marriage Symbolism

The Marriage SymbolismIn the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, as in many other novels, there are many issues that subtly and sometimes not so subtly, are represented with symbols. One such issue in the novel is the marriage between Ethan and Zeena, and how each other’s emotion agitates the other. This is a cold and passionless marriage, where partners are not connected and neither communicates with each other.

While Zeena has many symbols representing her struggle, the marriage symbols are perhaps the most prevalent dealing with Ethan. During the novel, one should realize several things about the symbolism surrounding Ethan’s house. When he first walks past the gravestones of his parents, it states “Sacred to the memory of Ethan Frome and endurance his wife, who dwelled together in peace for fifty years.” (Pg. 72) Ethan wonders if this would someday bear his and Zeena’s name. This gravestone epitomizes their dead marriage, peacefully dead next to each other, never actually living. Throughout their marriage up to that point, except in the very beginning, they have peacefully existed with each other, tolerating each other, but never releasing any life, as if they really were dead. Another symbol dealing with Ethan is the missing “L” in his house. Ethan states that, “The ‘L’ was bigger in my father’s time; I had to take it down a while back” (Pg. 19) This is somewhat ironic because this is about the time that Zeena came into his life. Edith Wharton also states that, “The ‘L’ rather than the actual house seems to be the centre of the farmThe hearth stone of the farm.” (Pg. 19) This seems to be the symbol for Ethan and Zeena’s marriage, where the warmth was taken out between them and now the two unconnected edifices (Zeena and Ethan) have a harsh, impenetrable barrier of cold between them. In order for one of them to cross the barrier into one of the other’s domain, they must exert a great deal of effort, and neither has had enough concern with the marriage to try and exert that effort.

Mattie is rather interesting for the fact that she brings to Ethan the passion that has been missing between him and Zeena. Mattie is symbolized by the color red and light, the exact opposite of Zeena. In several instances Ethan is almost hypnotically drawn to her light as if she was a torch and he was a moth. She is almost passion personified, as is shown by the color that is symbolized with her character, red. This is the instance when she is driving home with Ethan from the dance. “He longed to stoop his cheek and rub it against her red scarf.” (Pg. 41) Such is the delectability of Mattie that makes Ethan want to almost taste her. This passion with which Ethan has recently become re-acquainted with becomes apparent when he is not the only one being affected by the incident as Zeena and Ethan have their first fight in many years. On Pg. 101 the choice of words the Edith Wharton chooses for Zeena becomes curious. “Her voice rose furiously with his” this would have never been used in a sentence describing Zeena in the beginning of the book.

This passion is perhaps repressed rage for what happens during Ethan and Mattie’s meal together. During the night that Zeena is gone, Mattie and Ethan decide to have a nice dinner together. Mattie is described as having “through her hair she had run a streak of a crimson ribbon,” (Pg. 74) and her usual association with red was complete, but Mattie also manages to take down Zeena’s prized plate to make this night even more special. The plate was described as “Never meant to be used, not even for company, and I had to get on the step-ladder to reach it down from the top shelf of the china closet, where she keeps it with all of her best things”. (Pg. 77) This phrase could almost be used to describe Ethan’s relationship with Zeena, and now Mattie came into their relationship, a relationship that was never to be moved out of the mortuary like state it was in, finally felt something. When Mattie and Ethan decide to eat using the plate, they munched and Ethan “feigned an insatiable appetite for dough-nuts and sweet pickles”. (Pg. 76) This erotic symbolism is present through out the entire book as well. While eating, the ever vigilant pussy-cat, who represents the sly and kneiving Zeena, numerous times gets in Mattie’s way, and eventually breaks the fine china dish, spilling pickles everywhere. While they both try to decide what to do, Ethan “laid the pieces together with such accuracy of touch that a close inspection of touch convinced him of the impossibility of detecting from below that the dish was broken.” (Pg. 79) While before Ethan’s marriage had always been out or reach to either partner (the plate earlier) after the introduction of passion from Mattie is shattered to pieces (the dish shattering). While Ethan tries to convince himself that his marriage is the same as it was before, and it might appear that way from below, Ethan knew and Zeena would soon know that it had been irreparably damaged.

Although Ethan and Zeena’s marriage might have been cold and unreachable in the beginning, it was at least steady. With the introduction of passionate Mattie, their marriage has been forced to use emotion and confront itself, whether that confrontation is pretty or not.

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