Hell is all about stasis, or an unchanging permanent state, on a number of levels. First, the very structure of Hell – a series of concentric circles – gives an impression of inescapability, since circles have no ends or edges and one can only continue tracing their arcs in a futile attempt to find a way out. Secondly, sinners cling to their sinister ways and refuse to repent. In their refusal to change, they condemn themselves to an unending stream of punishment. When the protagonist finally does escape Hell and emerges on earth’s surface, the position of the sun in the sky seems not to have changed at all, giving the impression that no time has passed since he went to Hell and back.
As the levels of Hell deepen, the sinners within each successive circle become more entrapped and more immobilized; in a parallel vein, it becomes increasingly difficult for Dante to move forward through the Hell.
At the boundary between each circle, Dante experiences a period of paralysis, suggesting that Hell discourages movement and enforces stasis on its prisoners.