Type of work Narrative poem
Genre Epic poem, religious allegory, fantasy
Language Medieval Italian vernacular
Time and place written Early fourteenth century (probably begun around 1308 and completed around 1314), throughout Italy
Date of first publication 1314
Narrator The character Dante recounts his trip through Hell, looking back on it after an indeterminate period of time.
Point of view As
Tone Dante uses a largely moralistic tone when portraying the figures and events in his poem. At times he also comes across as sardonic or ironic. With his elaborately designed retributions, Dante expresses a belief in, and awe for, the perfection of divine justice.
Setting (time) The evening of Good Friday through the morning of Easter Sunday in the year 1300
Setting (place) Hell
Protagonist On a literal level, Dante, the character in the poem; on an allegorical level, humankind
Major conflict Dante attempts to find God in his life, while those sentenced to punishment in Hell hinder him from the true path.
Themes The perfection of God’s justice; evil as the contradiction of God’s will; storytelling as a vehicle for immortality
Motifs Political arguments; allusions to classical literature and mythology; cities; the role of fame and prestige in human life
Foreshadowing Virgil occasionally makes references to events that occur later in the poem, and the Italian characters often prophesy Dante’s exile from Florence, but, on the whole,
Take a Study Break
Every Shakespeare Play Summed Up in a Quote from The Office
Every Book on Your English Syllabus, Summed Up in Marvel Quotes
A Roundup of the Funniest Great Gatsby Memes You'll Ever See
QUIZ: How Many of These Literary Jeopardy! Questions Can You Answer Correctly?
7 "Crazy" Women in Literature Who Were Actually Being Totally Reasonable
Honest Names for All the Books on Your English Syllabus
QUIZ: Are You a Hero, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero?