Hell is most often referred to as a place of fire with lakes that burn for all eternity complete with suffering to which one is never allowed to grow numb. Most references to it freezing over are made as if that is a non-possibility; however, as one of my hobbies is researching myths and legends, I have heard of the icy realm that those who die anything other than a warrior’s death are condemned according to Norse mythology (think Vikings). It is ruled by the goddess Hel, daughter of Loki and a giantess, who is not kind. Read Dante’s Inferno and you get a broader view of the hellacious terrain of the underworld.
Enter John and Isabella Thorpe of Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian and we have the most horrible of both extreme aspects, and the age old stereotype of a man full of hot air and a cold-hearted woman. I already liked neither of them, but now I thoroughly dislike them. They make a completely wretched brother-sister duo with whom I would not want to be acquainted, but which is worse? Fire or Ice?
Speaking of which, how can anyone not make the connection between the mention of fire and ice and Robert Frost’s poem Fire and Ice? It is a poem about the end and the destructive nature of desire and hate. Fire and ice are often used metaphorically thus, but which would make the worst eternal suffering?
I once caught on fire. It’s kind of become a family legend, but I have the scars to prove it. Obviously I survived, but I cannot really remember how it felt. Must be some kind of blessed memory block I feel justified in letting stand, but having burnt my fingers enough on hot surfaces I know that burns are agonizing. I have no desire to burn to death or in eternal deathly awareness.
Likewise, I detest the idea of freezing. Winter is only my favorite season as I can enjoy it sitting cuddled up in front of a warm fire with a good book. Can you imagine being eternally cold, freezing without the relief of becoming numb or warming up?
In their extremes neither fire nor ice is appealing, and only seem enjoyable when offered as a way to temper the effects of the other. A searing summer day is made bearable by an ice cold drink. The bitter winter nights are only perfect cuddled next to that fire I mentioned.
What say you? Which is the worst extreme: fire or ice?
*Photo: Fire & Ice by jasonbolonski, obtained through Flickr.