Topic #1

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Honors World Literature
Essay: Dante’s Inferno
Choose ONE of the following paper topics testing your understanding of the work as a whole and allowing you to analyze
important themes and literary devices.
You are expected to use specific quotations and analysis of quotations in your response.
This will be a minimum three-page, typed paper following all MLA format conventions.
We will work in the computer lab on Wednesday, April 1 to write the rough draft and Friday, April 3 to complete the final
draft.
Due date is Friday, April 3. If you will not be at school on Friday, you must turn in your paper on Thursday in class, or
you can email the paper to me at [email protected] by 3:30 Friday, April 3. You will turn in your peer edited
rough draft, final draft, and rubric.
Topic #1
Dante's vision of hell has a very carefully worked out structure, which not only indicates punishments for particular
crimes but which also ranks sins according to their seriousness.
Discuss the importance of this structure of punishments, paying particular attention to what it reveals about Dante's vision
of the individual and society, and the various ways these can become corrupt.
Evaluate how well Dante’s structure applies to modern culture. How would modern society rearrange the levels in terms
of seriousness? What modern characters would inhabit these levels?
Topic #2
Dante establishes an allegorical tale in order to relay an underlying message.
Discuss imagery used, the message, and the purpose of three allegories used in the Cantos.
Evaluate how well the three allegories you chose apply to modern culture. What new symbols would modern society
respond to? What modern characters and punishments could serve to illustrate a message in allegorical form?
Topic #3
There are three main themes in traditional literature; these themes include the picaresque theme, in which the character
travels or makes a journey; the reversal of fortune theme, in which the character has his or her situation in life changed;
and the survival of the least worthy theme, in which a character who is not really equipped for survival is able to endure.
Which of these theme(s) apply to Inferno?
Compare and contrast the selected theme(s) in Inferno to another text you have read.
Evaluate how well the theme you chose resonates in modern society. How should the theme be re-envisioned to
accommodate modern society? What modern characters and obstacles could serve to illustrate the theme to a modern
society?
Pre Writing
Before you begin to write, you must think about how to organize your ideas for maximum effect. In the space below,
create a graphic organizer or outline for your thoughts and fill it in with appropriate ideas, quotes, and examples.
Every essay must include the following:



Analysis of topic-specific quotes and examples from the Inferno
Evaluation of Inferno topic in modern terms
Application of Inferno topic to modern society
Essay PEER EDITING

Look at the introduction. Does it set up the topic, give a little background, and transition into a well-developed
thesis?

Now make sure that each body paragraph development follows the purpose of the thesis. Identify the topic
sentences for each paragraph, remembering that the topic sentence usually appears within the first three sentences.

Do the topic sentences support the thesis? Are details germane to the topic sentences?

Now read the conclusion. It should offer NO repetition of what is in the paper. The conclusion should work as the
“so what?” factor.

Has the author appropriately cited quotes, paraphrases, and ideas taken from sources?

Does each quote use a proper lead-in?

Are citations in the correct format, placed before the period following the end of the sentence?

The essay should NOT use any first person pronouns (I, me, my, myself, we, our, ourselves, us) or second person
pronouns (you, your, yourself) except in direct quotes.

Look for any use of the same words in close proximity. This is a violation of “WT = word territory.” Words are
weakened when they are overused. Mark these!

Look for extra, unnecessary words and repetitive ideas. Help the writer cut out the fluff.

Watch for word choice. This is a FORMAL paper for an ACADEMIC audience. The language should reflect this.
(Example: “stuck up” = conceited, etc.) NO use of slang.

Highlight any use of the word “thing” (anything, everything, things, stuff, alot, a lot) other than in direct quotes.
The writer will need to change these nebulous words.

Circle any contractions (other than those in direct quotes!). Write these out. (Ex: couldn’t = could not)

See if the writer has said “this means that” or “what the quote says” after a quote. Mark out these words to edit
the sentence to what it DOES say without forcing on the reader “this says that”!

Mark out “there is/there are” structures ANYWHERE (other than direct quotes). All this does is delay the
subject.

Circle ALL “to be” verbs. (See list below.) The writer will need to work to replace these verbs.

Are there any run-ons, fragments, or comma splices? Are commas, semi-colons, and colons used correctly?
Eliminate “To Be” verbs:
 to be (is, am, are, was, were, be, been, being)
 to become (any variation of become)
 to seem (any variation of seem)
 look, smell, appear, prove, sound, remain, taste, grow, feel, exist
Look for passive voice (“to be” verb + past action verb). To fix it, simply place the doer of the action in the subject of
the sentence.
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