John Milton's Paradise Lost is a work of enduring charm and value because of its theological conceptions, its beautiful language, and its "updating" of the epic to the modern world's values. Book II of this epic poem opens with Satan's speech to his minions in hell, proposing war on Heaven itself. In these first 44 lines, Satan is clearly established as epic hero, but at the same time is theologically/morally denounced by the speaker.
This section of the poem opens by establishing Satan's position of power and prestige:
High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand
Show'rs on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, (II. 1-5).
These lines create an aura of awe and majesty for Satan, showing his glory and splendor through material things, while at the same time inferring indirectly that this material show is all that Satan has, rather than real power or value.
After this portrayal of Satan the epic hero in all his magnificence, the speaker (the heavenly muse) is very careful to bring down his image morally, despite the magnificent outward experience. The muse asserts that,
by merit raised
To that bad eminence; and from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high, insatiate to pursue
Vain war with Heav'n, and by success untaught
His proud imaginations thus displayed, (II. 5-10).
The muse is very careful to remind the reader that Satan is in a high position because of his greed, and the high position he has obtained is not a good position t...
... middle of paper ...
...son who uses elevated language well. The speaker's voice is brought forth showing that despite Satan's slick moves, he is the villain, but the reader still feels sympathy for Satan. The speech is a moving one, and certainly accomplishes the task of motivating the denizens of Hell to move against Heaven. It fits the framework of the poem perfectly, showing not only the theological goals of the poem, but also the desire of the poem to "mock" the traditional epic, and to provide a literary work of great beauty and power.
Fox, Robert C. "The Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost." Modern Language Quarterly 24 (1963): 354-64.
Lewis, C. S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Rpt. New York: Oxford UP, 1979.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. In John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1980.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- An Analysis of Satan's Final Speech in Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan's final speech to Eve, 11. 679-732, Book IX, in Milton's Paradise Lost, is a persuasive masterpiece carefully structured to appeal to her ambitious tendencies and to expand her already existing doubts (which Satan has implanted) as to the perfect nature of God. Satan begins by worshipping the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as Eve will do after she has made her choice. Throughout the remainder of the speech, he attempts to present the tree as an alternative focus of her faith.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1773 words (5.1 pages)
- Milton makes Satan out to be a loveable likeable character that we can relate to, for a man of principle and a godly man why does he do this “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”Revelation 1: 8 in the King James Version John Milton’s Paradise lost is a poetic amalgam of vice and virtue it is an epic navigates the perils of right, wrong and the grey area that humans themselvesstraddle. An epic inherently conflicted at its very core stemming from the writer and the environment around him.... [tags: Paradise Lost John Milton]
1439 words (4.1 pages)
- Satan’s Competing Desires in Paradise Lost In John Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, the author establishes Satan as the most complex and thought-provoking character in the tale through his depiction of Satan’s competing desires. Throughout the first four books of Paradise Lost, Satan repeatedly reveals his yearning both for recognition from God and, simultaneously, independence from God. The paradox that prevents Satan from achieving his desires may be interpreted as a suggestion of Milton’s establishment of a sympathetic reading for this character, as he cannot truly find happiness.... [tags: Paradise Lost, John Milton, Epic poetry, Hell]
969 words (2.8 pages)
- Satan is No Hero in Paradise Lost There have been many different interpretations of John Milton's epic, Paradise Lost. Milton's purpose in writing the epic was to explain the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Although the epic is similar to the Bible story in many ways, Milton's character structure differs from that of the Bible's version. Through-out the epic Milton describes the characters in the way he believes they are. In book II of Paradise Lost, Milton portrays Satan as a rebel who exhibits certain heroic qualities, but who turns out not to be a hero.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1717 words (4.9 pages)
- Satan: The True Hero of Paradise Lost by Milton The identity of the true protagonist in Paradise Lost is a mystery. One would gather that Milton, a Puritan, would have no problem casting God as the hero, and Satan as the antagonist. However, looking back in history, Milton saw that most epic heroes had conflicts that prevented them from accomplishing their goals. God and his Son have no conflict, and Adam’s story does not really begin until the Fall of Man. Therefore, Milton was forced to select Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost because he adheres to the guidelines of epic poetry set by Homer, Virgil and others.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1622 words (4.6 pages)
- Satan’s Myth of Free Will in Paradise Lost Milton, through Satan's soliloquies in Book 4, shows that Satan's idea of free will is a facade, and God carefully manipulates him to fulfill his plan of Adam and Eve's fall. While speaking, Satan inadvertently places doubts in the reader's mind that his will is free. Satan proves through his actions that God created him to act in a very narrow range, even though he himself does not realize this. The combination of pride, ambition, abhorrence of subordination, and ignorance of his own state as a puppet lead to perpetually diminishing stature and divinity.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1268 words (3.6 pages)
- Deception of Satan in Paradise Lost The speeches of Moloch, Belial, Mammon, and Beelzebub represent particular ways of looking at life. Milton derived these views from I John 2:15 and 16 which says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world." Coming into the world, these demons transferred their philosophies to the human race.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1697 words (4.8 pages)
- Speech and Deception in Milton's Paradise Lost "Rhetoric and sophistry testify to the fact that the world in which we live is a world of speech, that the clever man can compose at will in order to trick others." 1 Speech was perhaps the most important medium for Milton. As a blind poet, his lack of visual faculties was augmented by a renewed importance on auditory paths to enlightenment, especially the communicative. Therefore, contemplation of dialogue in Paradise Lost becomes an essential tool for developing a correct understanding of the characters, as Milton would have intended. Nowhere is this truer than with the character of Satan. Throughout the text, his rhetoric ex... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1724 words (4.9 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
703 words (2 pages)
- The classic tragedy Paradise Lost, written by John Milton, demonstrates how the fallen angels lose the paradise they have been given, and how this fall directly effects the downfall of man as well. Before anything ever was, all matter was chaos; utter darkness and filth. A mighty being, God, rose up out of chaos and created the firmament called Heaven, and all the universe (4). The angels, and archangels that populated Heaven, danced in the realms of the magnificent light (8). Lucifer, the highest archangel, stepped fourth and accused God of his power, jealously tying to take it from him.... [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]
1390 words (4 pages)