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Punishment in Dante's Inferno

            In Dante's Inferno, God punishes sinners in a unique way so that the crimes they commit on earth reflect the punishment they face while in Hell; which is a contrapasso. One example of a contrapasso is in canto thirteen, where sinners who commit suicide are in a form of a tree watching their bodies hang down from the branches. Another example is in Canto 20 where Dante and Virgil get to meet the diviners, who have their necks twisted and have to spend rest of their time in Hell looking backwards. The contrapasso in canto twenty is that in their life on earth the diviners look into the future for answers, so in Hell God is denying them to look forward and is making them look backwards. What these two canto's are trying to get at is that these people who commit suicide and these diviners are trying to defy God by doing things that only God has the power and decision to make.
             In Canto thirteen, God punishes sinners who commit violence against themselves, others and God and the location is in the second division out of the three in the seventh circle. At the beginning of canto thirteen, Dante gives a description of circle seven and he says that there are"no green leaves, but those of husky hue, not a straight branch, but knotted and contorted, no fruit of any kind, but poisonous thorns"(239). This description sets the tone for the rest of the canto and shows that this part of Hell like the rest is a dark place and this description shows how dark the life of the people who commit suicide is. While Dante is in circle seven, Virgil tells him to, "break off a twig among these brambles"(241) and Dante listens to what he says and after he does this the "stem cried out 'Why do you break me? Are you completely without pity"(241). That is how Dante and Virgil get to meet a guy whose name is Pier Delle Vigne. Virgil tries to make Vigne talk by telling him that Dante can revive his fame back on Earth, which is appealing to him and that is why he says, "If one of you goes back into the world let him restore my reputation,which, helpless, lies beneath the blow that envy dealt it"(243).

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