Published on February 27, 2014
John Milton The Fall of Satan from Paradise Lost
John Milton • Mid-seventeenth century poet and political activist • Wrote against the corruption of King Charles and The Church of England • Was totally blind by the time he wrote Paradise Lost, dictated the entire thing to his secretaries
Puritanism • In Milton’s day Puritanism meant having politically radical views • The subject of Paradise Lost is the fundamentals of Christian Theology • Ultimately expresses Milton’s personal, Puritanical, truth
Paradise Lost • Literary Epic poem o Unlike other epics is totally a work of fiction • Begins in medias res o In the middle of the action • Blank Verse o Unrhymed iambic pentameter Though Milton invokes a lot of Christian imagery, it is best to view this as a work of fiction, totally unrelated to religion. Your religious views are irrelevant to this reading.
What is the subject of the poem?
The Subject “Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and, all our woe, With the loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,(1-5) o o refers to original sin of Adam and Eve brought humans death for the first time
How does Milton display a bit of hubris*? *extreme pride or self-confidence
Milton’s Hubris “Sing, Heavenly Muse… That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the Heavens and Earth Rose out of Chaos…” (6-10) o o not asking for tradition Greek muse asking for Holy Spirit to inspire him as he did Moses to write the Ten Commandments and Genesis • His poem will be better than all other classical writings • Reason for writing o “And justify the ways of God to men” (26). • Why God permits humans to suffer and die o His poem will tell of the epic battle between God and Lucifer
How was Paradise lost in the first place?
Disobedience of Adam and Eve “Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view, Nor the deep tract of Hell, say first what cause Moved our grand parents in that happy state, Favored of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint” (27-32). o God saw the transgression of Adam and Eve o Questions how this came about
Disobedience of Adam and Eve “Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal Serpent, he who was, whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with his host Of rebel angels…” (33-38). • Satan corrupted God’s plan out of vengeance • God allows evil to exist in order that good may arise from it • Satan thrown out of Heaven by God • He is to blame for original sin
Who is the villain? What is he like?
Satan • He wanted to be like God • Rebelled and was punished “To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equaled the Most High, If he opposed; and with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious was in Heaven and battle proud With vain attempt.”(39-44)
Where does God send him?
Satan and Hell “Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky With hideous ruin and combustion down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms” (44- 49). • Thrown out into depths of hell by God
What is Hell like?
Hell • Milton uses darkness and imagery to indicate the horridness of Hell o o o o “fiery gulf (52) “dungeon horrible” (61) “No light, but rather darkness visible” (63) “discover sights of woe” (64)
Hell “Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all; but torture without end Still urges… Such place Eternal Justice had prepared For those rebellious, here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set As far removed from God and the light of Heaven” (65-73). • Physical torment- fiery yet dark • Physiological pain o “doom” “Lost happiness” “dismay” • Eternal punishment • Light and dark imagery
Beelzebub “He soon discerns, and weltering by his side One next himself in power, and next in crime, Long after known in Palestine, and named Beelzebub” (78-81). • Second in power under Satan
• Satan Bemoans their place in Hell “’If thou beest he- but O how fallen! How changed From him, who in the happy realm of light Clothed with transcendent brightness didst outshine Myriads though bright- if he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprise, Joined with me once, now misery hath joined In equal ruin: into what pit thou seest From what height fallen!” (84-91) • Tells Beelzebub he has been transformed for the worse by God’s punishment • Mourns heaven when he sees the state of Beelzebub • Does not repent for his rebellion
Satan “…so much the stronger proved He with his thunder; and till then who knew The force of those of those dire arms?” (92-94). • Did not realize the strength and power of God
• SatanGod Sees himself as the enemy of “Yet not for those, Nor what the potent Victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent or change,” (95-97). “Innumerable forces” Two “powers” Engage in “dubious battle” Heaven as a “lost field” God is Satan’s “lost foe” “eternal war” (93-124) • Presents them as his army • Diction represents war
Satan “the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield: And what is else not to be overcome?” (106109) • Driving force for Satan • God was upset by the battle- he was uncertain about the outcome
• Satan Will continue was for eternity “since by fate the strength of gods And this emerged substance cannot fail, Since through experience of this great event, In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, We may with more successful hope resolve To wage by force or guile eternal war Irreconcilable to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy, Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.” (116124)
Satan • Will wage war against God’s tyranny • God in heaven rejoicing • Take action once again
Beelzebub’s Response “That with sad overthrow and foul defeat Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as gods and heavenly essences Can perish…/ Here swallowed up up in endless misery.” (135-142).
Beelzebub's Response • Doubtful • Can we overpower God and his supremacy? • Realizes the horridness of their situation
Beelzebub's Response “That we may so suffice his vengeful ire, Or do him mightier service as his thralls By right of war, whate’er his business be, Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire, Or do his errands in the gloomy deep? What can it then avail, though yet we feel Strength undiminished, or eternal being TO undergo eternal punishment?” (148-155).
Beelzebub’s Response • Questions if they are still slaves of God’s • Their punishment in hell is to do God’s bidding in hell
Satan’s Response • “to be weak is miserable” (157) • “To do aught good never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight As being the contrary to his high will Whom we resist” (158-162). o Only commit deeds of evil o God cannot control that o His evil will equal God’s goodness
Satan’s Response “Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimmering of these livid flames Casts pale and dreadful?” (180-183) • Satan’s perspective of Hell • He realizes the horror of it and is repelled by it
Satan’s Response “And reassembling our afflicted powers, Consult how we may henceforth most offend Our Enemy, our own loss how repair, How overcome this dire calamity, What reinforcement we may gain from hope, If not, what resolution from despair.” (186-191) • Satan’s plan of action • Seek vengeance for the offence
Satan “Prone on the flood, extended long and large, Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge As whom the fables name of monstrous size, Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove, Briareos or Typhon whom led the den By ancient Tarus held, or that sea-beast Leviathan, which God od all his works Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.” (195-202) • Indicates the hugeness and vastness of Satan • Compared to Titans and giants from Greek Mythology
Satan “…this is the seat That we must change for Heaven, this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best, Whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme Above his equals.” (243-249) • • • • • • Accepts his new placement and wants to reign sovereign Happy to have his own kingdom to rule Proves he is God’s equal Pride “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” (263) Eager to rally his forces- needs support to rebel against God
Epic Simile • Something in the poem is compared to something quite outside the poem o Compares Satan to Titans and Greeks from mythology (196-208) o Compares his landing to smashing of a hill or volcano which create an explosive force (230-237)
John Milton’s Paradise Lost Questions 1.As you read Paradise Lost, keep Milton's stated purpose in mind: to "justify the ways of God to men” (1.26). How does Milton show the justice of God? 2.How does Milton portray an individual's free will and God's will in Paradise Lost? What does Satan think about his free will and God's power and control?
John Milton’s Paradise Lost Questions 3.If God is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful), then why would God allow Satan to rebel against him and, later, allow Adam and Eve to do the same? Is it just that God would create Satan and Adam and Eve knowing that they would rebel against him?
John Milton’s Paradise Lost Questions 4.Paradise Lost begins with Satan and his fall, and Satan speaks first and at length in the beginning of the poem. Why do you think Milton would begin the poem by focusing on Satan, instead of focusing on God or Adam and Eve, allowing Satan to give his side of the story before readers are exposed to other points of view?
John Milton’s Paradise Lost Questions 5.Why might some readers see Satan as heroic? Identify specific passages in which Satan seems heroic, and be ready to explain what could be regarded as heroic about Satan in the passages. 6.After answering the question above, evaluate the same passages again, but this time try to determine how the passages might not portray Satan as being so heroic after all.
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