In a 1935 radio play, a man dies in a car accident and finds himself in a palatial home where a butler fulfills his every wish for wealth, women and so forth. The man (acted by Colin Clive, the first movie Dr. Frankenstein) cannot bear what he takes for Heaven, and tells his butler, “I want to suffer…I’m sick of Heaven…I can’t stand this confounded everlasting bliss…Well, whatever the devils do to me can’t be as bad as this. I want to go to Hell!”
The butler replies, “Why sir— wherever do you think you are? This is Hell, sir!”
America has turned into Hell — not the Hell of Christian theology, to be sure, but the real Hell in which the satisfaction of narcissistic desire drives the damned into ever more intense misery.
The playwright, John Balderston, wrote the 1931 film “Dracula” and other scripts in the horror genre. In 1960 Charles Beaumont, another genre writer, adapted Balderston’s playlet as an episode of The Twilight Zone. The theme derives from Goethe’s “Faust,” which in turn borrows from the biblical Book of Job.