Heaven and hell are directions. They are pathways. Along the ways are infinite mansions with gates and hallways with many doors to many rooms each with different spirits (emotions) and combinations of spirits within. This is true both figuratively and literally.
The descriptions are analogies but also make statements about that which is not dissimilar. In other words, aspects of the pathways are more literally dissimilar to the analogy than are others. Along the pathway are absolutely literal mansions and gates and also figurative mansions and gateways, etc.
This is why John the Baptist was and was not Elijah. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. Matthew 11:14 (King James Version). The New American Standard Bible says, And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. John was Elijah; however, when the priests and Levites sent by the Pharisees from Jerusalem asked John the Baptist whether he is Elijah, he said "I am not." He was not lying. Yet, he was Elijah. In the most mundanely literal sense (lack of understanding), he was not Elijah. In the spiritual sense, which is divinely literal and the greater reality, he was Elijah. Jesus knew this better than his own prophet, John, because Jesus was and is greater than John the Baptist.
The parables of Jesus are allegories. They are representational of the truth and are truth. Actual, mundanely literal news reporting also reveals those truths. We see the signs of the times and the fruits of hell right on the front pages and in the headlines. Selfishness is darkness, and it abounds intentionally as never before. Hell fires are coming and are already here if you will accept it, are given by God to understand it and to stand against it.
Heaven and hell are each relative and absolute. Human sin and righteousness and their consequences are in due proportion (symmetrical) with knowledge and understanding of the same and with standards and consistency concerning them. The dividing line is selfishness. The selfish spiritually are cut off and burned up. The spiritual becomes manifest on this plain of existence (consciousness and conscience). They mirror one another and will become one, as prophesied. That's the promise made to the righteous and soft-hearted.
Human beings individually and collectively are being sinful. Consequently, we see all the signs of difficulties that are evident. They are as the labor pangs before the birth of the real new age that will wipe out the incorrect thinking of the neocons for instance concerning that coming age. The hardheartedness is becoming more and more manifest.
The selfishness in human hearts is becoming more and more tangible even while more and more is expected of human beings by virtue of what has been shown before. The excuse is gone, because Jesus came; however, rather than turn more to God, the general population turns even further and farther away. In this way, the more truth that is revealed, the starker contrast becomes between those who want the truth and those who seek to exist in a false that is temporary comfort of denial about their self-aware sins harming others who have difficulty overcoming but who wouldn't be burdened were it not for selfishness within others and themselves.