Saturday, June 15, 2024

John Milton -3

Paradise Lost

Book II:

After being thrown into bottomless hell by God, Satan and his followers assemble to decide the future course of action in Pandemonium. They cannot remain in the state of pain and shame forever and hence search for ways to escape from that suffering. Satan speaks enthusing the spirits of dejected soldiers. He reminds them that they have all been gods and had been worshipped in different parts of the world. They are mighty and only God could defeat them. He asks them to decide  “Whether of open war or covert guile, we now debate”.

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As a Commander of an army in distress he gives them choice to decide though he is for vengeance.

His lieutenants like Molach, Belial, Mammon put forward their opinions. Some suggested open war but some wanted to find other ways to fight as there was no way of winning a war with Omnipotent God. There are detailed descriptions of each of these lieutenants and their power. Beelzebub, who is next only to Satan, spoke about God’s creation of a new world with a man in it. Though man is faithful to god he is not so powerful as angels. If he can be harmed that would cause distress to God and thus they can have some kind of revenge on God. (When two boys fight the defeated boy goes to the younger brother of the winner and beats him!).

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“Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and wih repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass

Common revenge.”

After so much of discussion Satan resolves that on behalf of all he will go alone, stealthily, as angels are guarding the insurmountable walls of heaven and the multiple gates of hell are also a problem to pass through. Then Satan with all his might flies to the gates of hell guarded by two horrible creatures Sin and Death. Though the upper half is that of a woman, the lower half of Sin is with scales like that of a snake and there were many dogs around her waist. Death is more like a shadow without any concrete shape. They are powerful and armed. The key to the lock of the gates of hell is with Sin.

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When Satan commanded the guards to open the gates, Death was ready with his deadly weapon, Dart but Sin intervened saying he should not kill his father. She goes on to explain that she was an angel in heaven supporting Satan and that she conceived because of him. After the war, she was also thrown out and was assigned the duty of guarding the gates of hell. Death was born to her and the lusty one made his mother give birth to so many dogs that are around her waist. Having heard all this and having seen that the gates of hell are unbreakable, Satan changes tone and starts telling them that he is trying for the liberation of all in hell including the two at the gate. Convinced by his fallacious arguments they open the gates and let Satan pass. Satan flies away with his wings like those of sails.

There is a description of cosmos as perceived by Milton. It has Chaos, Oceans, Night etc, and in that ‘confusion worse confounded’ Satan seeks direction from Night to move ahead to the world of man.

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Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.


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