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Importance of Debate in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

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Importance of Debate in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost Is an epic novel depicting the creation of the world and Man's fall from grace. It also shows the fall of Lucifer and his entrapment in Hell with other arch demons. Though Lucifer was one of the most beautiful angels, he became the most hideous of creatures in hell as Satan, the most powerful demigod-god. Satan resents God for the punishment that he has received and seeks revenge on Him. Satan knows, however, that he and his forces are no match for the might of Heaven, so he calls for a debate among his devilish council to work through their options. John Milton portrays the arch-demons of hell like members of the Senate, toiling over how to get back at God. The arguments are similar only in that they all believe that some course of action must be taken, but in most ways they are vastly different. Each debate builds on the last until the best compromise is met.

Satan begins the debate with his opening remarks. He sounds hopeful, even though he knows that Hell is no match for God. Satan then yields the floor to Moloch, who argues the most extreme course of action. He believes that a full out war on Heaven is the only way to seek revenge on God. Moloch's speech was the first argument so the other demons were the most open minded about his ideas. Belial then took the stand, though he had a far different view than Moloch's.

Belial can see that they are no match for the power of God, and therefore denizens of Hell should be benign and hope that God pities them. In other words, Belial is ready to give up because he recognizes that their hands are tied. He is hoping that God wants them to realize this and will allow them back into heaven for admitting that He is superior. Belial's argument is the complete opposite of Moloch's in that he believes in repentance, not revenge.

Mammon disagrees totally with Belial's argument. He thinks that because they have been banished from heaven and become so obviously hideous, there is no longer any place for them there. He believes that they are forever banished to Hell and they should make the most of their situation. Repentance is not an option in his mind. According to Mammon, the arch-demons should make the most of a bad situation.
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