Descent Into Hell: Finale
I am going to start this post as a sort of thread, introducing some themes and eliciting comments and questions. My first question is: Who is Mrs. Samille, and is her name of any significance?
To answer, let us start with the name, Lilly Sammile. Sammile is very suggestive of Samael, a demon equated in some Jewish traditions with Satan and is more generally a fallen archangel who is the enemy of the human race. In one tradition he is closely linked with Lilith, by whom he has children.
At the very least, someone bearing these two names is a demonic force to destroy the souls of men, and in Williams' mythology, then, where shutting ourselves against others and preferring the love of self practiced in Gomorrah, she is a sort of alter-ego of the demon who has conquered Wentworth. I await your comments and questions, and then will move on to consider at greater length Williams' doctrine of substitution.
Jacob makes an excellent observation. Note, too, how Williams, without creating sympathy for the demons, teaches readers to hold them in contempt. In all too many exorcism movies, the devil is omnipotent.
In a way, everyone in the story is tested, though we do not fully understand where they will end up. Two not especially nice characters, Mrs. Parry and Hugh, are outside the "republic" and without grace, but they live by their own code which renders them less selfish and self-deceived. Hugh is an atheistic agnostic, but he does not deceive himself into thinking he actually knows the truth, and he is impatient with Adela for her self-delusions. Mrs, Parry may not have an ear for poetry or a drop of taste, but in taking charge of these productions, she give much of herself, and Stanhope goes out of his way to be kind to a woman he does not especially like.
Wentworth's self-inflicted doom is the product of years of self-absorption. When he attends the historians' meeting and encounters his hated rival, Williams tells us that he might have begun a process of delivering himself from his suicidal egotism by hating the rival for making mistakes or being wrong. Instead, all he can say is "I have been cheated."
Adela's nonsense about poetry--as all the conversations about art--spills over into her own terrifying alienation. Everything is just "tangential."