Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177

Descent into Hell is a novel by Charles Williams. The story features Gothic elements, such as supernatural themes. The novel also features references to biblical themes, such as the Abrahamic concept of heaven and hell, as well as liberation of the spirit. The idea of a doppelgänger is mentioned in the story, which emphasizes the most prominent theme in the novel: duality. The doppelgänger represents the good side and evil side of people. It also a metaphor for heaven and hell, which are mirror opposites of the same ethereal realm.

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Another theme in the story is the act of sacrifice because of love. Playwright Peter Stanhope alleviates the spiritual burden and fears of Pauline Anstruther by bearing the "weight" of those fears. This allows Pauline to find spiritual liberation. On the other hand, Lawrence Wentworth experiences false love, which is the negative obsession over someone or something that appears in the disguise of love. Lawrence's obsession with Adela, or his idealization of her in the form of a ghost, causes him to descend into hell.

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