English teacher inflicts punishments a la Dante
Though it may be an ancient, well-respected book, a Holy Grail if you will for English teachers everywhere, Dante’s “Inferno” is in fact the most student-hated required reading in the history of the world. The only novel that could ever hope to top it would be “Great Expectations” by the horrendous, completely overrated Charles Dickens. “I’m glad he’s dead,” a local high school student commented on the not-so-dearly departed author. Regardless of student opinions, 10th grade English teacher Beatrice Virgil has taken her “Inferno” obsession to the extreme. To her dismay, her whole class absolutely despised the book. “I never read it near a window,” 16-year-old Jenny Hughes said. “I would be too tempted to jump out.” Ms. Virgil (who, on a completely unrelated note, owns 14 cats) already had a family history of mental illness, and the students’ upsetting response to her favorite book finally set her off.
“It began very gradually at first,” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous because Ms. Virgil still haunts him to this very day. “She decorated the room with certain items from the different circles of Hell. Gigantic spears, pits of fire, violent wild dogs… nothing too alarming.” However, her plans quickly changed. Ms. Virgil began disciplining her students with actual punishments from “Inferno.” One student was seen by Ms. Virgil kissing her boyfriend in the hallway. She was then forced to stand outside on the windiest day of the year. (Her crime? Lust). The poor girl could barely walk; eventually she collapsed on the ground, defeated. Other students naturally reported the incident to the principal, yet the victim was so scared she couldn’t speak, leaving the reports uncorroborated.
The second incident occurred when Ms. Virgil discovered two students betting on who would win the school basketball game. She accused them of greed, and their punishment was to joust to the death. Fortunately, the period ended before anyone was killed, but Sean Daily had to go the nurse’s office to get the lance removed from his shoulder. When questioned by the principal, Ms. Virgil claimed this was an accident. Silly Sean had been running indoors carrying the lance, and he tripped and impaled himself. Not wanting to investigate further (because Ms. Virgil was scary and evil) the principal dismissed this incident as well. She did have a doormat that said “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.” The children began to fear for their lives so they then went to their parents, who turned out to be less than helpful. “When I went to Catholic school, the nuns whipped us every day!” one father claimed. The other parents seemed to have similar feelings, not wanting to interfere with a “nice, professional woman” like Ms. Virgil. “She wears very pleasant pantsuits,” another parent chimed in. “That must be a good sign!”
The third and final incident may have been the cruelest of them all. A boy was caught throwing crumpled up pieces of paper across the room at his friend. “I was just trying to get his attention, I swear!” he reportedly screamed. However, Ms. Virgil told him he was an evil, violent boy and would have to be punished. She dragged him outside, tied him to a tree, and set bees upon him, shouting, “Eat him, eat him!” Fortunately, bees are not harpies, so aside from a few minor stings, the student was unharmed.
Finally, the police came after dozens of reports of abuse from her students. When they arrived to arrest her, though, they found Ms. Virgil standing on a mountain of ice in the corner of the classroom, hissing and clawing at the officers. There was a lot of fog, and some students reported that the teacher appeared to have three faces. It took two hours and a SWAT team to defeat the evil woman, having to throw stones, pull hair, and climb on her back to drag her down. A substitute teacher took over for the rest of the semester and she reported that every student received an A on the “Inferno” test.
Rachel Mucha is a freshman journalism major who found Hell on Homerconnect. Email her at rmucha1[at]ithaca.edu.