7

enter image description hereIn the Sandman, Season of Mists 07, after Lucifer gives the key of Hell to Dream, he gives it to the angels. At the end of the issue, one of the angels come up to one of the demons and says that he should punish him for punishment, he should punish him for redemption.

That was the old Hell. That was a place of mindless torture and purposeless pain. There will be no more wanton violence; no further suffering inflicted without reason or explanation

And the person who is getting the punishment says:

But you don' understand. That makes it worse. That makes it so much worse...

What is the reason behind that? Maybe there's a language barrier or some biblical knowledge that I don't know but I don't understand why getting a punishment for redemption is worse than getting a punishment for torture and why whould the punishee says that.

  • 4
    It's worse being punished by the good (for your own good) than by the evil (for their own amusement) – Valorum Apr 11 '19 at 17:29
  • 5
    I haven’t read it nor have citations but perhaps because it means the punished have to actually face up to their sin and truly repent? Mindless punishment is so much more externalizable – Paul Apr 11 '19 at 17:31
  • 3
    You know the saying "Go to heaven for the weather, hell for the company?" Imagine a place with hell's weather and heaven's company. Not an exact parallel, but I think it's a similar idea: The only good thing about hell is not have to deal with smug self-righteous prigs calling themselves angels. Now they take over, and instead of making it more humane, they do it all the same bad things in the name of your own good. – starpilotsix Apr 11 '19 at 19:37
  • 7
    If one is getting punished and in pain, it's easy to think it's because the punishment is unfair and it's only because your captors are evil and cruel. But then an angel tells you, no, you're going to suffer because you deserve it. It's your fault. That is psychologically worse (it's why abusers often use that line on their victims). – Keith Morrison Apr 11 '19 at 20:38
  • 2
    one of these comments should probably be submitted as an answer. – TerranGaming Apr 12 '19 at 8:06
4

The comments from starpilotsix and Keith Morrison are both plausible readings. But there's a specific aspect of Gaiman's depiction of Hell that may be relevant too.

While he's closing down Hell and getting ready to hand over the key to Morpheus, Lucifer explains that the inmates are only there because, either consciously or unconsciously, they think they should be there. Lucifer and the demons didn't demand for them to be brought there, and don't care about their sins at all; but since they are there, and the demons are sadistic monsters, they get punished. One soul (an ancient ruthless dictator) insists that he should be allowed to stay, because of how horrible his crimes were, which seems to be his way of convincing himself he's an important person; Lucifer says no, nobody remembers you and your crimes weren't that big a deal, and he disappears.

So it's possible that the person you're talking about was afraid that under the new system, what's happening to them would no longer be controlled by their own beliefs about their sinfulness, but by someone else's - and that the idea of becoming a better person was threatening to their whole idea of who they were.

I'm not 100% convinced, though. Gaiman didn't try too hard to stay consistent to that idea - I don't think he was all that interested in the concept of Hell. So it may be that it was just about what those two commenters said; certainly that particular angel seems like a smug jerk.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.