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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
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_____ 1. One of the themes of the Inferno is related to Virgil's
continual chastisement of Dante's failure to question. Which
of the following best expresses this theme? Attainment of

A. can only be reached after sufficient punishment at the
hands of someone denied Heaven.

B. can only be reached through an understanding of the nature
of God and the structure of his universe.

C. can be reached only after an extended period of doubt as to
its existence.

D. is reserved for those who rely on reason rather than faith.

_____ 2. In certain cantos of the Inferno, Dante's style is
coarse and uncomfortable. In others, it is smooth and flowing.
Which of the following statements best explains this?

A. Dante was unsure about the truth or accuracy of his vision
of the universe. The style changes reflect periods of doubt in
Dante's faith.

B. Dante had two visions of the universe, one from the
Catholic Church and one that was his own personal vision.
The conflict in style represents the conflict in images.

C. Dante felt the occasional use of an uncomfortable style
would encourage a reader to move through his long and
complex work.

D. For Dante, style changes with the subject. When he was
describing the grotesque nature of sin, the style was harsh.
When he was describing the grandeur of the universe, the style
matched the subject.

_____ 3. At the beginning of the Inferno, Dante finds himself
lost in the Dark Wood and

A. besieged by the Furies who are threatening to call Medusa.
B. challenged by a lion, a leopard, and a she-wolf.
C. having visions of Beatrice, St. Lucy, and the Virgin.
D. frightened by the Fallen Angels who guard the gate to Hell.

Read the following excerpt from Canto XX (Sorcerers) and
use it to answer questions 4 and 5.

And, Reader, so God give thee grace to glean Profit of my
book, think if I could be left Dry-eyed, when close before me I
had seen Our image so distorted, so bereft Of dignity, that
their eyes' brimming pools Spilled down to bathe the buttocks
at the cleft. Truly I wept, leaned on the pinnacles Of the hard
rock; until my guide said, 'Why! And art thou too like all the
other fools? Here pity, or here piety, must die If the other
lives; who's wickeder than one That's agonized by God's high

_____ 4. Dante is agonizing over the twisted bodies of the
sorcerers. Why is Virgil chastising him?

A. Dante is failing in his quest to move from the perception of
Hell's horrors to understanding the nature of sin.

B. Dante's emoting is taking up too much time, and Virgil is
threatening to leave him there to weep.

C. Virgil knows that one must remain completely emotionless
if one wants to make it through Hell.

D. Virgil is impatient with Dante's "On again off again"
sympathy toward the souls in Hell and wants him to be
consistently sympathetic.

_____ 5. In this passage, Virgil expresses a concept of Hell
and the sinners in Hell which Dante does not yet have. Which
statement below best expresses Virgil's concept of the sinners
in Hell?

A. Although the placement in Hell is haphazard and there is
no order in Hell, the placement is eternal and must therefore
be accepted.

B. Each place in Hell was chosen by the victim of the sinner,
and is therefore ultimately just.

C. Sinners choose Hell by choosing sin, and the placement in
Hell is arranged, as is everything, by the greater wisdom and
order of God.

D. Hell is a place of purification, and each soul, although now
suffering, will ultimately be released to join God.

6. Select one sin and its punishment. Use it to demonstrate that
Dante's Hell is one of symbolic retribution.

7. How is the Inferno an allegory?

8. Suppose at the end of the journey through Hell, when Virgil
tells Dante, "Up on your feet," Dante responds something like
this: "Look! What do you want from me? I'm only human. I
will not walk another step." What would this mean in terms of
Dante's quest and in terms of the meaning of the work?

9. Knowing from Cantos XIII-XV how Dante feels about
maintaining natural elements, explain how you think he would
react to such things as diet pills, steroids, and birth-control

10. In Dante's Inferno you will find his contemporaries,
people from the past, and various mythological and legendary
beings. Explain why.

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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes

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