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Literary depictions of hell

Rainier Ababao

In many religious traditions, hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. It is a concept that we cannot know about except through direct experience, which, once obtained, probably cannot be shared. This doesnt prevent us from envisioning its form, though. To what extent have older literary depictions of Hell affected Juan Rulfos interpretation of Hell?

The Divine Comedy

An epic poem by Dante Aligheri, written in three parts:

Inferno Purgatorio Paradiso

Dantes Inferno
This is the first part of the Divine Comedy. It is an allegory about Dantes journey through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, who wrote Aeneid, which offers a similar interpretation of hell. Dantes Hell contains Circles, which are ordinally categorized (the First Circle, Second Circle, etc.) to hold souls based upon their sins: they are specifically named Limbo (for the unbaptized and nice but non-Christian pagans), Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.

Dantes Inferno
Each of the circles represent a gradual increase in wickedness from the last, and they culminate in Satans hold at the center of the earth. People who sinned but prayed for forgiveness before their deaths are not found in Hell but in Purgatory, where they labor in order to become free of their sins. Contrapasso

Virgils Aeneid
A Latin epic poem written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC; the legendary story of Aeneas, who became the ancestor of the Romans. 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter. Aeneas goes to the underworld in Book 6.

Virgils Aeneid
Both Virgils Aeneid and Dantes Inferno propose that Hell has a certain logical structure. However, Virgils has a less particularized structure, and their notions of Limbo are different. Dante placed virtuous non-Christian souls in Limbo, whereas Virgil had no religious prejudice at all. Dantes Hell is definitely more unforgiving; if they sin and never repent, they are automatically doomed to Hell for eternity. This demonstrates a large amount of influence by the Christian beliefs it represents.

Virgils Aeneid
Virgils society believed that no one behaved perfectly throughout their lives, i.e. nobody was without sin. They simply had to pay dues. The nature of these dues was not important nor well described, but the mere existence of suffering made their hell an undesirable place.

Dante borrowed ideas from Virgil, even taking up the name as Dantes guide through Hell in his journey, but these major, more Christianityspecific differences reflect huge cultural changes in Italy between Augustus reign to Italys Middle Ages.

John Miltons Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in rhyme-less iambic pentameter by John Milton, published in 1667. John Milton describes Hell as a place of absolute darkness, fierce heat, and hostile elements. The nature of Hell as a place of punishment as it was explored in Dantes and Virgils works is not explored, but is portrayed as an abode for the demons and the prison from which they plot their revenge upon Heaven by corrupting the human race. Pedro Paramo!

Hell in Pedro Paramo

Pedro Paramo examines the physical and moral disintegration of a laconic cacique (boss) and is set on a mythical hell on earth inhabited by the dead, who are haunted by their past transgressions. Juan Rulfo certainly borrows concepts from Dantes Inferno. He writes, In the shimmering sunlight the plain was a transparent lake dissolving mists that yielded a gray horizon. Farther in the distance, a range of mountains. And farther still, faint remoteness.

But is Comala Hell?

Comala probably represents some kind of purgatory with souls that are just wandering and asking for forgiveness. In this town, the citizens are obsessed with prayer and want to be in peace one day; this is why they are devoted to the church. Father Renteria?

Mexican Catholicism
Bibiana Bogues

Was the most dominant religion in Mexico, Mexico and still is today. 91% % of the people followed the Catholic faith 91 Mexico is the second largest country in regards to number of Catholics (Brazil is first) The church is seen as a second family, the priest is seen as your father, and the other people of the church as your brothers and sisters. Idolizes saints, spirits, and ghosts ghosts.

The Mexican Constitution of 1824 had required the Republic to prohibit the exercise of any religion other than the Roman Catholic. Benito Jurez: : Following the revolution of 1860, President Benito Jurez issued a decree separating Church and state (which had never been done in Mexican history).


Mexican Catholicism stresses the human characteristics within the dead, spirits, and ghosts. They are not seen with a negative connotation but rather with another mind with feelings and thoughts just as someone alive. This is shown in Pedro Paramo because it is difficult to truly know who is dead and who is alive in Comala because they dont have a distinct differentiating factor. They are seen as parallel parts with equal importance. importance


-From From 18761876-1911 relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican government were steady. steady Daz had a devoted interest in keeping good relations with the Church because he believed it would aid him in his plans and make his goals easier to attain. - Diaz, however, did not completely support the church. Many Roman Catholic clergy, including Miguel Pro, were executed during the antianti-clerical Cristero War during the later part of the Revolution.

Particularly offensive to Catholics was Calles's insistence on a complete state control on education, education suppressing all Catholic education and introducing secular education in its place. The effects of the war on the Church were deep. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed. There were 4,500 priests serving the people before the rebellion, but by 1934 there were only 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million people. The rest had been eliminated by emigration, expulsion and assassination. By 1935, 17 states had no priest at all. Catholicism and church had hit a huge downfall.

By: Mia Mills

Born May 16, 1918 in the town of Sayula, Mexico Died in 1986 of lung cancer Their family consisted of wealthy landowners but their money was lost after the Mexican Revolution/Cristero War Grandparents raised him after all the deaths of the family members (Father, Mother and Uncles) Growing up with his grandparents, he was granted access to the library of a priest who kept books in their house Rulfo recalls this as being a fundamental in his literary creation and development.

Rulfo held various different types of jobs during his lifetime These include different writing, agency, culture and art-related jobs His artwork (photography) is located in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City His literary creations are short, only publishing two works: The Burning Plain ( El llano en llamas) and Pedro Paramo

The aftermath of the Mexican Revolution greatly affected Rulfos childhood His father was killed after the revolution and his mother died of a heart attack- thus, leaving Rulfo an orphan His two uncles were murdered along with his father due to troubles during the Revolution and Rebellion Many of these family deaths created a lasting effect on Rulfo and his writings (the prevalence of death in nearly all of his works)

The Cristero War (1926-29) also plays a significant role in Rulfos childhood It was a struggle between the government and Catholic militias over the restricted rights of the churches The War caused widespread destruction during the late 1920s

Rulfos hometown, San Gabriel, had been a thriving town until the revolution turned the town upside downmade the town poor and deserted Rulfo depicted the ghost towns in Pedro Paramo as San Gabriel after the Revolution by being represented as a place where promised reforms were never carried out Meaning that Rulfo replaced San Gabriel with Comala because comal means an earthenware utensil that is placed over the embers for the purpose of heating the tortillas--and the heat that prevails in that town was what gave me the idea of the name Comala ,the place over embers, depicts the fiery nature of Pedro Paramo The town depicts rural Mexico and its people

Jalisco was the state where he was born and translates to sandy plain-- this type of setting is where nearly all of his writings take place Rulfo states that he choose the setting of a ghost town because he had taken a trip to San Gabriel where instead of finding the idealized town he had in his memories from his childhood he had literary seen a ghost town By using this in Pedro Paramo, he wanted to try and bring back the town to life The use of death and violence in Rulfos writings is due to his own experience of violence during the revolution

The Generation of 1952 included Rulfo and his works by classifying them as the time period of literary boom in Latin America His literary works played an important role in gaining worldwide recognition (along with other authors during the time period) This also created more opportunities for prominent novelists to become widely known

http://www.gradesaver.com/author/juanrulfo/ http://mostlyfiction.com/latin/rulfo.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Rulfo http://legacy.lclark.edu/~woodrich/SPAN23 0/seligmanparamo.html