Ethics in Science Tobacco and Lead Essay

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The Wrathful Hypocrite

Arash Hamvatan

HON 2101
Prof. Little
12 February 2013

The Wrathful Hypocrite Throughout his Inferno, Dante the poet mercilessly judges people based on his version of good and bad and places them in different circles of hell. By examining his Comedy, one can see that the poet is especially harsh on people who have perverted their minds and used it to justify their wrongdoings by putting them in lower circles. In this judgmental world, Virgil emerges as a symbol of wisdom to apologetically defend the distribution of sinners in hell and assert Dante the pilgrim of the righteousness of his actions. However, based on Dante’s own judgment on hypocrites, who are guilty of misusing their intellect, the poet himself belongs in the sixth pouch of the Malebolge among other hypocrites for selectively using Virgil as the voice of reason to justify the unjust actions of Dante as a pilgrim and muting reason in situations where it ought to speak out against his ruthlessness. Dante uses Virgil to praise the violence of Dante the pilgrim in many instances. The first evidence of hypocrisy is seen in the encounter between Dante and his political rival, Filippo Argenti, in Canto VIII. When the poets are crossing the river of Styx, where the wrathful are tormented for eternity, Dante sees a suffering Argenti and viciously wishes him even more pain. This wrathful action is done by Dante the pilgrim and the poet cannot be blamed for it. However, Dante the poet uses Virgil to praise this ruthlessness and make it look like something “indignant” (VIII, 44) and rational rather than politically fueled anger. Another example of Dante’s unnecessary fury is apparent in his vehement rebuke directed at Pope Nicholas III in Canto XIX. The pilgrim starts cursing the pope and reminding him of all the terrible things he has done and causes the sinner to get more frustrated and start kicking hard with his feet (XIX, 120). Again, the poet claims that Virgil is pleased by his action and admires his true words (XIX, 121-23). In another instance in the seventh circle, where people who have committed suicide are being tormented, Virgil not only justifies Dante’s violence, but also advocates it. In this case, when Dante asks about the mysterious trees surrounding him, Virgil simply tells Dante to snap off one of the branches of the poor souls to satisfy his selfish curiosity while being aware of the fact that the trees are really the souls of sinners. In all of these cases, Dante uses reason to justify his wrathful actions; however, his hypocrisy does not stop there. The poet is also guilty of muting Virgil when something horribly wrong is happening. For example, in Canto