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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
Table of Contents

TERM PAPER IDEAS

THE INFERNO AND OTHER WORKS
1. Compare and contrast Dante's vision of Hell and Virgil's description
of the underworld (Book VI of the Aeneid).

2. Compare and contrast the images of Beatrice presented in the Vita
Nuova and in the Comedy.

3. How is Dante's Satan different from Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost?
4. What are the parallels between the story of Lancelot and Guinevere
and the story of Paolo and Francesca (Canto V)?

5. In what ways is the City of Dis the antithesis of the Eternal City of the
Paradiso?

6. Compare Dante and Aeneas in the Aeneid.

DANTE'S PHILOSOPHY
1. The Divine Comedy is based on a neoplatonic world view. Discuss.
2. Name and discuss several elements Dante "borrowed" from Aristotle's
Ethics.

3. It is often said that Dante's philosophy most closely resembles that of
St. Thomas Aquinas. Defend or dispute.

4. Using Virgil as an example, explain what Dante feels are the
limitations of secular humanism.

LANGUAGE
1. Explain Dante's use of a mixture of high and low style language.
2. Dante uses metaphor extensively, especially in the creation of his
major images. Identify instances and explain their significance.

3. Ulysses' speech (Canto XXVI) seems like a set speech. Explain how
and why.



FORMAL ELEMENTS
1. Dante uses many mythological characters in symbolic ways. Explain.
2. As one journeys deeper into Hell, the sinners are more physically
bound or confined. Explain why.

3. Can the structure of Hell be seen as a visual metaphor for the
deepening potential for sin? Substantiate your answer.

4. Why does Dante treat Brunetto Latini (Canto XV) differently than he
treats other sinners? Does this signify any theme or nuance of Dante's
philosophy?

5. What is the significance of the repeated use of the numbers 3, 9 and
10?

6. Is the Inferno an epic?

THE CHARACTERS
1. What is the role of Beatrice?
2. Explain the literal and figurative roles of Virgil.
3. What is the relationship of Dante the pilgrim to Dante the author?
4. Is Dante the pilgrim a symbolic "everyman"?

HISTORY OF THE TIME
1. What elements of the reigns of Pope Nicholas III and Pope Boniface
VIII make Dante treat them with such venom (Canto XIX)?

2. Describe the life of the historical Beatrice.
3. Explain the details of the feud between the Ghibellines and the
Guelphs.

4. What was the significance of Dante's and other art forms to the
Florentines of Dante's time?

THEMES
1. Explain Dante's concept of sin and how it relates to free will.
2. The quest for Heaven is also a quest for order. Explain.

3. Virgil needs divine assistance at the Gates of Dis. What theme does
this initiate or suggest?

Table of Contents


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The Inferno by Dante Alighieri - Barron's Booknotes
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