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Under the direction of their architect, Mulciber, they construct a great tower that comes to symbolize the capital of Hell, Pandemonium. The devil army, flying this way and that, is compared to a great swarm of bees. When the work is done and the capital completed, they all assemble for the first great council. Milton begins Paradise Lost in the traditional epic manner with a prologue invoking the muse, in this case Urania, the Muse of Astronomy.

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As the prologue continues, it becomes apparent that this muse is more than just the classical Urania, but also a Christian muse who resides on Mt. Sinai, in fact the Holy Spirit. Milton further emphasizes in the prologue that his theme will be Man's disobedience to God's will, implying not only Adam's disobedience, but all mankind from first to last. He does add that his subject will include the "greater Man" 4 who saved all others from the original disobedience. Moreover, his intention will be to "justify the ways of God to men" 26 through the aid of "Eternal Providence" By "justify," Milton means more than simply to explain; he means that he will demonstrate that God's actions in regard to man are just.

This goal suggests that Milton was not bothered by any sense of false modesty, an idea underscored by his statement that he will write in a high style and attempt a purpose never tried before. At no point in this prologue and invocation does Milton mention Satan, who, though he is the main character of the poem, is not the actual subject.

Following the invocation and prologue, Milton continues in the epic style by beginning in medias res , in the middle of things.

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Satan is first seen lying in the pit of Hell. That a great religious epic focuses on Satan, presents him first, and in many ways makes him the hero of the poem is certainly surprising and something of a risk on Milton's part. Milton does not want his audience to empathize with Satan, yet Satan is an attractive character, struggling against great odds. Of course, Milton's original audience more than his modern one would have been cognizant of the ironies involved in Satan's struggles and his comments concerning power.

Paradise Lost

The power that Satan asserts and thinks he has is illusory. His power to act derives only from God, and his struggle against God has already been lost. To the modern audience, Satan may seem heroic as he struggles to make a Heaven of Hell, but the original audience knew, and Milton's lines confirm, that Satan's war with God had been lost absolutely before the poem begins.

God grants Satan and the other devils the power to act for God's purposes, not theirs. Also, at this point in the narrative, Satan is at his most attractive. He has just fallen from Heaven where he was the closest angel to God. He has not completely lost the angelic aura that was his in Heaven. As the poem progresses, the reader will see that Satan's character and appearance grow worse. Milton has carefully structured his work to show the consequences of Satan's actions. The catalogue of demons that follows Satan's escape from the burning lake follows an epic pattern of listing heroes — although here the list is of villains.

His speech is far more persuasive than Moloch's and he makes use of the words of the earlier speaker, twisting them to serve his own arguments. Mammon points out that the devils cannot hope to dethrone God until Chaos regains the rule of things when order collapses. He points out, further, that, even if God should excuse the devils on condition they return to their former allegiance, this would not be tolerable. Mammon suggests that they can copy features of Heaven using the natural resources of Hell.

Like Belial before him, he argues that in time the fallen angels will become accustomed to the hostile environment of Hell, and, wholly dismissing the idea of war, concludes:. His speech is met with a sound described by Milton as being like that of wind in hollow rocks, lulling tired mariners to sleep. Beelzebub now rises to address the throng.

Paradise Lost Quotes

He therefore concludes that mere war or peace is unacceptable, and begins to outline what Satan has earlier told him the story of God's creation of a new world and man. He suggests the investigation of this world and its inhabitants, in the hope of finding some weakness and spoiling this creation. In doing so they will thwart God, and in making man God's foe, may even force God to destroy His new creation. But, he asks, who will undertake this perilous exploit?

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Having so far presented his plan in a favourable light, he now lists the hazards which will confront whoever undertakes the venture, knowing that this will ensure none will dare challenge Satan for the honour. After Beelzebub's request for a volunteer has met with initial silence, Satan begins by saying how reasonable it is that devils should fear so perilous a venture, but claims he would not deserve to be their leader if he were to shrink from the task. He insists that none need share this danger with him nor, of course, he thinks, its attendant glory and the devils with mixed feelings of reverence for, and fear of, their leader do him homage.

Milton, in an aside, laments how while devils, even, work in harmony. Only man fights his fellow. While Satan prepares to begin his great adventure, the devils are free to occupy their time how they wish. Satan flies to the gates of Hell where he finds his way barred by the monster, Death, who challenges and provokes him. But another hideous creature, Sin, intervenes, and informs Satan that the first of the monsters is his son. Satan had then taken her as his mate and fathered Death, who subsequently vented his lust on her, begetting further foul creatures. Following the devils' expulsion from Heaven, Sin has been charged with keeping locked the gates of Hell.


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She further tells Satan the impossibility of defeating Death, and he quickly adopts a diplomatic approach. Sin unlocks the gates, but is unable ever again to close them. Satan attempts to fly from Hell but drops straight down, and is only rescued by being buffeted upwards by a hot blast from a natural explosion. In this undignified fashion, Satan eventually arrives at the court of Chaos, whom he persuades to let him pass on his journey.

Discuss one or more scenes in Paradise Lost , 1 and 2, which illustrate Milton's dramatic powers. Consider some of the means by which Milton in Paradise Lost , Books 1 and 2, enables us to imagine events and scenes that lie outside any possible human experience. What do you find most interesting in language and in thinking in Milton's presentation of the devils' debate? Show in what ways Milton at the same time presents the strengths and the weaknesses of the devils.

What difficulties do Books 1 and 2 of Paradise Lost pose for the modern reader, and what are the rewards? From your study of Books 1 and 2 what do you think these are? Is Satan, as he appears in Book 1 of Paradise Lost , too great and attractive for his functional role as villain? Ornaments: View More. Kim Lawrence. Tracie Peterson. Tracie Peterson , Kimberley Woodhouse.

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