Study Guide

A Season in Hell Hell

By Arthur Rimbaud

Hell

Sorry to disappoint you, but unlike Dante's Inferno or Milton's Paradise Lost, "A Season in Hell" is not literally taking us down into Hell. Instead, the hell from which our speaker is broadcasting is purely metaphorical, a way to describe just how messed-up and crummy he feels. We know from Rimbaud's biography that he wrote this poem as a way to work through a bad break-up (check out "What's Up With the Title?"), so it makes sense that this kind of pain can feel like living in Hell. Sure, in line 11 he may actually dedicate this poem to Satan himself, but that's a reflection of his mental state, not his geographical one. He's not having his mail forwarded. He's just really, really…really bummed out.

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