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Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

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Spartan Scoop


An exploration into different interpretations of Hell
Diego Morales
A woman cowering in fear, dreading the presence behind her.

When you arrive, your sight is deprived. As you wander around your nostrils begin to flare up. Your ears start hearing whispers.

By the five minute mark you feel a constant steam, as if you were opening industrial dishwashers. After ten minutes the whispers would conjure into voices. They would ask how you died, reminding you of your regrets, holding you captive with your doubts. Every time you’d think of a response, needles would dance around your heart. It would be a prominent, shy heartache. 

To let you catch your breath, the voices abruptly stop.  Then, while calming down, you begin feeling a tickle in your nose, and then a sneeze. After some violent coughs, you try to pat your chest…. but right as your hand should make contact, nothing happens. There is no surface to stop your hand. In disbelief you clasp your hands around your face…except, you can’t. It’s like your head isn’t there. 

There’s no time for that trauma to heal, resulting in a positive feedback loop of torment.

To stop yourself from hyperventilating, you think “Come on, you feel your arms. You feel your heart race. It must be that you have really bad coordination right now. You’ll be okay In a couple minutes.”

In an attempt to find comfort, you try hugging your arms around your chest. But like cutlery through a tomato, there is no stop for your arms. They spin a full rotation. You think this is crazy, your shoulders should’ve stopped your arms. But your body says otherwise.

_ _ _ _ _


This is my interpretation of Hell: a constant struggle of the mental versus the physical self. It took me a couple years of research to reach this conclusion. Since seventh grade I’ve been collecting people’s perspectives about Hell. The concept of Hell is fascinating. I love how vague the threat of eternal punishment is. At first physical torture seems like Hell’s domain, but like scratching at a scab, how much can someone endure before becoming desensitized? After being gutted hundreds of times, what new pain can you expect? Wouldn’t it feel like just going through the motions?


These questions have me believe that Hell is a mental asylum. Buddhism has a concept embodying this mental torment. Even though unintentional, Samsara (reincarnation), fits the guidelines of Hell pretty well. Samsara is rebirth into another life (“depending on one’s previous actions”). Every time someone goes through Samsara, they lose their memories, leaving only their conscience to guide them. But Samasara’s torment doesn’t end there; depending on the life someone lived, they might reincarnate into an animal which puts them at the mercy of any inhumane jerk. The only way out of this painful cycle is reaching Nirvana, which is the state of complete purity, free of hatred, greed, and ignorance.

Dante’s Inferno

But even if Samsara is a torture worthy of Sisyphus, permanent hells deserve an inspection. In Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy ” Hell is like a corrupt prison, full of strict and graphic punishments. In this compound there are nine departments, each punishing a different type of offender. They are: 

1. Limbo

2. Lust

3. Gluttony

4. Greed

5. Anger

6. Heresy

7. Violence

8. Fraud

9. Treachery

 In only the second circle Hell, people are in a constant tornado, being flung around like leaves constantly bombarding each other. The crime of these people? Lust. According to our protagonist, Dante, many common-folk appear here. Although, through the darkness of the second Hell, Dante spots Egypt’s Cleopatra, as well as other historical figures (showing that the slightest of adultery will be punished equally to the grandest of swindlers).  

For major sinners, Dante’s inferno is a filing cabinet. From circles 7 to 9 there are at least two subsections for each ring of Hell. These subsections were  made to further shame inmates by having their punishment be an ironic twist. The reason the lower hells don’t have subsections is because their prisoners’ sentences are too generic. Like with circle two, everyone down there is a luster and so everyone can suffer from the lust storm’s irony. 

But in the 7th circle and beyond, crimes can’t get punished equally. Look at  Hell’s 7th circle, where violence is punished: both mass murderers and suiciders are incarcerated here. And while it makes sense that they’re contained in the same compound ( Because they were both violent to some source of life), it doesn’t make sense that they get the same sentence. In the case of the suicider, they only dishonored their life. But with the mass murderer, they robbed people of their future and by extension disgraced those who helped build-up the victim.

That’s why murderers are kept in an oceanic boil of blood, which struggles to let them breathe. While suiciders are condemned to live out as a gnarled tree in stoic forest, forced to reflect on their lives and reminisce on what they had.

Now, even though all of the punishments so far have been horrific, they barely hold a candle to the punishment of the top three sinners. Judas Iscariot, Marcus Junius Brutus, and Gaius Cassius Longinus are all guilty of betraying their lord. Judas turned in Jesus to Roman authorities, while Brutus and Longinus participated in the assassination of Julias Caesar. In all cases, their damnation comes from Lucifer himself. As a three headed beast, with a person in each mouth, Lucifer eternally devours their flesh. 

From the Christian perspective, this is terrifying. Being in the literal jaws of The Enemy with no chance of God’s help is like encountering a mother grizzly bear within ten feet.

From the human perspective, this is brutal. Every tooth of the beast would feel like a dagger. Every bone in your body could be crushed over-and-over. If Lucifer wanted he could probably put you down and then rip off a chunk, just like a rabid dog. 

This last penalty really makes me rethink my previous statement of “how much can someone endure before becoming desensitized?”. I don’t think anyone could get used to it. Knowing that some non-human intelligence is torturing you must be traumatic. And with constant chewing, there’s no time for that trauma to heal, resulting in a positive feedback loop of torment.


But what if Hell was more of a tool instead of a consequence? In Islamic beliefs Hell (or Jahannam), is the final laugh for the innocent. On judgment day Jahannam will be the meeting place. Allah’s (God’s) people will arrive gracefully, they will feel an ethereal calm- guiding them to proceeding.

 The convicts will be disrespected the moment they regain consciousness from resurrection. As they are delivered their faces are dragged through dirt. When the disobedient arrive they’ll tremble in disbelief. The magnitude of Jahannam will be overwhelming, the outbursts of fire and sobbing of screams will be deafening.

As each person, innocent or not, arrives they will each see a unique bridge. This bridge, the Siraat bridge, will widen or thin depending on a person’s goodness. To evildoers, this bridge will be steep, and sharp as a knife. Where the bridge begins, Hell opens. In order to reach heaven a person must cross through Hell on this bridge.

When an inmate slips off the Siraat they will be greeted with one of two biomes: 1. A scorching wildfire which acts like fog, engulfing everything. 2. An all-encompassing blizzard with frigid winds strong enough to simulate sand paper.

While the guilty panic and acquiesce with their situation, the innocent cross the Sirat stoically. Sinners will wallow in regret while lambs go about their business, ignoring Jahannam as a millionaire would ignore the homeless.

Just as conflicting as the emotions between the sinners and lambs, Jahannam is to conventional hells. Jahannam allows a few followers of Allah to repent their way out of Hell. The transition won’t be immediate, but after enough begging to angels and Allah, salvation is theirs. 


So between Buhidist, Islamic, and philosophical beliefs, Hell seems to follow a few rules:

  1. There is a way to make the prisoner’s pain feel fresh, rather than repetitive. 
  2. The Hell leaves no room for the inmate to heal in the mental sense, as that is how tolerance builds. 

But considering all these possibilities, a question arises. Does it matter how we try to preface Hell? By definition Hell is the most unrelenting pain, so by trying to predict it aren’t we trying to find comfort in the unknown? And by doing so aren’t we closing possibilities for Hell and leaving more horrid interpretations as possibilities?

In the end it doesn’t matter. Either we plunge into darkness or serve our sentence. No matter the ending, we shouldn’t live to avoid punishment. Instead one should live pursuing their passions and respecting the morals they’ve learned. That way there is no chance for regret when everything fades away.

About the Contributor
Diego Morales
Diego Morales, Reporter
full time dwarf