In Dante’s The Divine comedy, he takes us through a journey in hell showing us the difference in the sufferings of the penitent in purgatory and the sinners in inferno by illustrating the difference in their psychological makeup. Throughout this journey he is able to show clearly how the sinners in the inferno have already lost hope of ever rekindling their relationship with God. He says that as he enters hell he reads a sign with the words, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” (Cary Canto III). He also shows that the penitent in purgatory still have hope of getting into heaven and will later continue enjoying their relationship with God after their love with Him is rekindled. He says, “I saw an angel who, I might have sworn, spoke Hail! to her to whom he came to tell the gracious verdict that reversed our woe, when the long-wept-for peace, by Heaven's decree, to men was granted” (Cary Canto XII).
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His first journey is where he travels through the different circles in hell. As he enters hell he says, " Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements, accents of anger, words of suffering, and voices shrill and faint, and beating hands-all went to make tumult that will whirl forever through that turbid, timeless air, like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls" (Cary Canto III). With these words he shows us the intensity of the suffering that the sinners in the inferno are going through. His choice of words illustrates the kind of agony they had to go through to pay for their sins. This is contradicted with the relaxed environment that is experienced by the penitent in Purgatory as Dante says, “Upon the fronting rock I gazed. It seemed, our further course to block, it rose uncleft by fissure, gate or stair. But its own marvel filled mine eyes. Its white clear marble was with sculptured wealth so well, so richly furnished” (Cary Canto X). He says these words as he enters the first terrace of purgatory.
The text also illustrates to us the different natures of the punishments for both the penitent in purgatory and the sinners in inferno. The sinners in purgatory are punished through the demons in hell making them pay for the actual sins they committed while still on earth. The writer says, “They had their faces twisted toward their haunches and found it necessary to walk backward, because they could not see ahead of them. ...And since he wanted so to see ahead, he looks behind and walks a backward path” (Cary Canto XX). of the sinners in the eighth circle. These were the false future readers who are paying for their sin of saying things that were not in any way inspired by God. They are now forced to see only what is behind them for the rest of their lives in the inferno. Dante also says that a soul in purgatory tells him, “Brother, the power of love, which is our bliss, calms all our will. What we desire, we have. There is in us no other thirst than this” (Cary Canto III). This shows that the penitent in purgatory only repent for the sins they had committed and are later allowed to enter heaven and hence they continue enjoying their relationship with God. It also shows that the penitent in purgatory do not undergo the kind of torture that the sinners in inferno have to go through. Thus, the difference between the punishments of the sinners in inferno and the penitent in Purgatory, is that the sinners in inferno pay for their sins forever while the penitent in purgatory only keep themselves clean of sin and then they get an opportunity to get into heaven.
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