In Dante s Inferno, hell is described as a place full of torture and hopelessness. Within the circular body of hell, each level contained unique punishments for various types of sin. The further Dante descended into hell, the worse the punishments became. Due to the time period in which Dante wrote the Inferno, only the individuals of that time, along with their respective sins, are addressed. If Dante had written the Inferno in today s modern world, many interpretations and degrees of punishment for certain sins would have changed. As a result, many individuals in recent history would have deservedly been addressed.
One group of people, who would have undoubtedly been included, were the racists. Even though Dante refers to the sin of hatred for mankind and God, there is no specific reference to the hatred that stems from racism; specifically an individual s color and race. This is possibly due to the fact that racism was not considered a form of sin at that time. Or because Dante may have been a racist himself. Nevertheless, there are many instances in history that portray the most horrid crimes to be acts of racism. Some primary examples were the Civil War, and the Holocaust. In our society it s obvious that Dante would have addressed the circle of the racists, as separate level in hell. He would single out certain hate groups such as the Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), along with great racist leaders like Adolf Hitler. So what would be an appropriate punishment for racism? In answering this question one aspect of Dante s Inferno is clear, no matter what sin was committed, there was an appropriate judgement given. Using relevant strategies for relating the sin to the punishment, as Dante did, one punishment is very suitable in this instance. Give the racist soul the appearance of the people they hated. Then issue the same judgement that they once pronounced over that race of people, over their own tortured soul. Most importantly, the dammed soul would be inflicted with the same suffering that they once inflicted on the people of that color, or ethnic group. This would be a justified punishment, and would allow the soul to fully pay for its crimes.
In conclusion, racism is a sin that would have been included in Dante s Inferno, if it had been written in our society. Because of the atrocious crimes attributed to this sin, one level of hell should be dedicated to the torment of racists. A reoccurring theme in the Inferno is that all sin is punished with an appropriate, almost ironic, judgement. As a result, an appropriate punishment would be the issued (as mentioned before) to the detrimental sin of bigotry. The reason that racism is not directly addressed was that, during Dante s period, certain sins were considered more detrimental to humanity (such as betrayal and gluttony). This was exemplified throughout the story, as he addressed famous individuals who were guilty of these specific sins. Nevertheless, it is fair to conclude that if the Inferno was written today, Dante would have addressed racism as a primary sin, with a separate level in hell dedicated to its guilty souls.