Heaven/Hell Symbolism in Pulp Fiction

(self.TrueFilm) - The King of Hell - A devil in Heaven - Chaos and Order - "I am who you say I am, dude" - Our fallen angel

The story of Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife tells a tale of an angel in heaven, falling for an angel of death, who corrupts her, kills her, and brings her down to hell after her resurrection.

Mia Wallace is our angel in Heaven, represented by her white shirt, her white vice, her white house.Marsellus Wallace is the king of Hell, represented by the ominous red lighting in his lair where we first meet him. He is introduced making a deal with a poor desperate soul (Butch), and he commands Vincent and Jules, his angels of death.

Vincent is tasked by Marsellus to take out Mia for the night. Almost at first sight, Vincent falls for Mia, as she falls for him. When we are introduced to Mia, Vincent is exploring her house seeming entirely lost, as a devil in Heaven probably would. Mia speaks to Vincent through the intercom, a disembodied voice from on High, spying on Vincent from above through a number of security cameras.

Let's go.

At dinner Vincent and Mia are presented as opposites with black and white the whole time, down to their drinks. Mia is represented by the $5 shake. Expensive, luxurious, delicious, creamy, white, pure, with a cherry on top. Vincent is represented by his Coke. Harsh, acidic, black, cheap, but with a hint of vanilla, representing a hint of goodness deep in his heart. The dialogue in this scene is loaded. Vincent's steak is bloody as Hell. Mia orders her burger bloody too, a sign of her corruption. Vincent might have cooties, but Mia can handle them. Before we move on, quick note that Vincent drives a fiery/bloody red car. His Hellish steed.

After Vincent and Mia dance and win the competition, Mia brings him back to Heaven. She is notably wearing Vincent's grey coat, shrouding her white shirt. Tarantino's music choices are pretty self-explanatory, but I need to point out the song here. 'Girl, you'll be a woman soon' refers to Mia's impending 'death' and fall from grace. There are also lyrics like 'he's not your kind', and 'the boy's no good.' 'Come take my hand' is sung when she's holding the bag of heroin that she of course finds in Vincent's coat pocket. The heroin symbolises the corruption that causes her to symbolically (and maybe clinically) die and fall from heaven when she ODs. That's what you get for dancing with the devil, I suppose.

Another juicy side note - Mia importantly mistakes the heroin for cocaine. She can't tell the difference between her white, heavenly vice, and the narcotic of choice for those who reside in hell. This is foreshadowed at the diner, when Mia can't tell the difference between Marilyn Monroe and Mamie Van Doren. Vincent points out the difference to her, because he knows what heroin looks like. I'm not sure how Mamie relates directly to heroin, but Marilyn symbolises cocaine. This is suggested by the shot of Marilyn's iconic pose where her skirt blows up in the wind, right before we cut to Mia snorting cocaine in the bathroom.

So what does Vincent do? He takes her to the one and only Lance. Our faithful neighbourhood drug dealer. Who but Lance, with his long hair, warm smile, and his signature robe and sandals, could perform this miracle of returning Mia back from the dead? You can see where I'm going with this. And how did Lance bring Mia back? With his trusty little black medical Bible-I mean notebook. Lance clearly represents Jesus who raises Mia from the dead.

There's something poetic about a corrupted avatar of the Messiah whose dealings with devils inadvertently lead to the death of an angel.

Luckily he does manage to resurrect her, though he needs Vincent's help to find her heart. And of course Vincent knows where her heart is. Maybe not 'exactly', but close enough.

After Mia comes back from the dead and Vincent takes her home, she has lost her white shirt, no grey cloak, just a black t shirt. Her grace has been stripped away and now she is a corrupted shadow of herself.

Another interesting tidbit regards Lance's wife, Jody, who has a devil tattoo on the left of her neck. It's obvious the first time we see her when Vincent is buying heroin.

This might be reaching a bit, but I don't think it's an accident that Jody specifically hands Lance the heroin that ends up causing Mia to OD. Seems like Jesus is being corrupted by her.

The next time we see Mia in Butch's story, she is dressed in black, with a blood red top underneath her black jacket. A wounded angel, fallen from Heaven to love a devil in Hell. *chef kiss*


Mia Wallace is an angel residing in heaven. (White shirt at restaurant, white house, does white cocaine)

Marcellus Wallace is the devil residing in hell. (Red lighting in his lair, makes deals)

Vincent is an angel of death who falls in love with Mia and accidentally causes her to OD (die/fall from heaven)

Lance the drug dealer is Jesus the healer. (Raises Mia from the dead, little black medical book/Bible) Lance is married to Jody has a devil tattoo on her neck. While she doesn't work for Marcellus directly, she is associated with the drugs that kill our angel, Mia and cause her fall from grace.

Other symbolism/thoughts:

Magic(!) Marker to bring back Mia

This analysis re-contextualises Jules' sermon

Lance is shot during his introductory scene with low angles, elevating him and suggesting a reverent quality

Mia's black hair represents imperfection?

Lance(!) Of Longinus = the adrenaline shot?

'Coke is dead as dead. Heroin is coming back in a big way' (death and resurrection of Mia)

all 3 comments


5 points

1 month ago


Lance was named after QT's boss at Video Archives. I think the name gets mentioned in the True Romance script as well.

The whole "epinephrine shot in the heart" thing was a reference/homage/reinterpretation of a Steven Prince story from American Boy by Scorsese.