Violence in Dante's Inferno and Ovid's Metamorphoses

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Julian E. Wright Dr. Sharon Fulton Literature Humanities/Essay 1 27 February 2014 Violence in Dante’s Inferno and Ovid’s Metamorphoses Scenes of great violence, as the prompt says, are often written into dynamic narratives of great literary merit. From Dante Alighieri’s Inferno to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the inclusion of violence as a literary technique is used to propel the narrative forward, all while adding action, intrigue, and engaging the reader. Despite it’s validity as a literary technique, the inclusion of violent scenes in literature serve much more than the simple purpose of pushing a plot along a set of structured points. Scenes of violence provoke thought in areas ranging from human nature to the nature of sin, thoughts that often can’t be provoked my images of calm, sublime, or tranquility. Extreme violence, juxtaposed with other scenes, provides insight into the amazing nature of human capability and human nature. In Dante Alighieri’s Inferno there is an abundance of violence that is illustrated in varying ways. Despite the copious inclusion of violence scenes throughout the text, violence does not appear throughout the literary work for its own sake. As one reads on through the Inferno, it provides it’s own clarity. As the levels of Hell increase, the severity of violence does so as well. The violence that appears occurs in different fashions, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically and many times both simultaneously. The scenes violence included in Dante’s Inferno contributes to the theme and darker overtone of the poem. An example of a scene of violence is shown in Canto 13, Circle Seven. Considering this

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circle is where the suicides reside, it is the level known as “The Wood of Suicides”. The souls sent to Hell by suicide are turned into trees for the rest of eternity, being denied a human form.…...

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