I recall reading the story of Pandora for the first time when I was quite young, in what was my favorite of all the Childcraft encyclopedias--the one devoted to stories and fables. The version of the tale given there was simple and straightforward: Pandora, because of her inability to resist her curiosity, opened up that box given to her by the gods, and loosed upon the world all the evils that had been trapped within. But! At the very bottom of the box was Hope, the one good gift the gods had included, and that's what gets human beings through their misfortunes.
But at some point I was told--and I'm pretty sure it was by one of my college professors or TAs, although I can't imagine who or why the subject would have come up--that hope is actually one among those evils (I seem to recall my instructor claiming that it was the worst of all), as it refers to the delusional hope-against-hope with which we carry on blindly, expecting an outcome that will never occur.
I think about this latter interpretation with some regularity, but when I finally bothered to go to my Bulfinch and Edith Hamilton today, and then to some online translations of Hesiod, I couldn't find anything that appeared to endorse such a reading; there are certainly variants of the tale, but none that seem to line up with what I thought I was told.
So tell me, wise and worldly readers: was my instructor full of shit (assuming that I haven't just misremembered what he told us)? Or is there some basis for what I thought I learned? (Alternately, feel free to support your own position: is hope a good thing, or a bad thing?)