Queenie Proctor British Literature Ms. Baker October 25, 2012 Peace or Chaos: The Choice is Yours The statement misery loves company is well expressed in Book I of Paradise Lost, by John Milton. Satan is jealous of God’s command and decides him and an army of other rebellious angels will challenge God and overthrow Him as the ruler of heaven. Satan and the others woke in hell; they had just lost the battle against God. The results of their rebellion lost these disobedient angels access to eternal joy and peace and gained them eternal misery and chaos. Satan would rather be a king in a storm than a servant in a clam.
The text says, “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven” (Lewalski and Maus 1952) although Satan is in pain, he feels he is equal to God, because he can rule hell. Satan does hope to regain heaven through continuous war and disobedience. Satan has plotted a revenge and attempt to persuade the other fallen angels into remaining in cahoots with him. Milton’s representation of Satan’s jealousy towards God’s unbeatable authority is enough to make a non-believer convert to Christianity. Hell is described as a fiery furnace, dark and hopeless. Hell is also described as unlike that of Heaven.
At first even Satan is tormented by his loss of happiness and peace. Jealousy and pride won’t allow Satan to repent; instead it fuels his hatred and desire to rebel. Satan believes that if he begs for mercy it would be more shameful than the defeat he just experienced. Satan is jealous of God’s leadership and mocks God’s leadership style. “Who no triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heav’n” (Lewalski and Maus 1949). Satan is trying to distraught the readers perception of God, and draw sympathy for himself. Satan is manipulative and selfish.
Satan doesn’t want to be servant, but wants the fellow fallen angels to be a servant to him. Satan’s purpose is self-glorification and uses the others to get him what he wants. Satan is a dictator and doesn’t care about anyone besides himself. The text states he and his entire army were defeated by God. One of the fallen angels, Beelzebub, realized God’s superiority and ponders if everlasting hell was worth the battle. Satan immediately begins to persuade Beelzebub that even though they have lost the battle and the rights to Heaven, they continue to have free will, and questions what God won.
He encourages Beelzebub to continue to do evil and commit to an eternal war against God. At this point Satan begins his strategies to corrupt the others. “He informs them of his hope to regain heaven” (Constantakis). Once Satan had the multitude of rebellious angels’ attention; he explains how he will regain Heaven. “He awakens his followers, begins to plot revenge against God by corrupting God’s newest creation” (LaBlanc). Satan knows God’s powers are stronger than his, but still refuses to surrender. Satan decides if he cannot overthrow God; he will attempt to destroy everything good God creates.
If God beats Satan’s attempts to make something good; bad, he will go about it a different way. This idea is foolish because God is the creator of everything. There is a saying, “if you want to know how something works, don’t ask the creation, ask the creator”. This statement implies that the creator will always outwit the creation. Satan is a creation. As Satan gets his council together he declares himself as the ruler of Hell, and claims it his kingdom. The fallen angels submit to his authority and recognize him as their master. Now Satan’s revenge is reviled: to destroy God’s latest creation; mankind.
Satan believes, by doing this he and his council will rise again and defeat God. Satan does believe himself to be in control and free, however the text implies otherwise. “Chained on the burning lake, nor ever thence and ris’n or heaved his head, but that the will and high permission of all-ruling Heaven left him at large to his own dark designs” (Lewalski and Maus 1951)This text verifies that God is still in complete control, Satan cannot do anymore than that which God allows. No matter Satan’s attempts and purpose, God will come out the victor. God’s powers and strengths are incomparable.
Satan can understand that he has lost the ability to gain heaven and realizes being condemned to hell is his punishment for rebelling. However it is his mind that is truly imprisoned. “Like other fallen angels, he [Satan] cannot understand that servitude is the greatest freedom. His mental torture is worse than his torture in hell and he can never escape it. ” (Miller). Earlier Satan question what God has won, we can apply that same question here; what has Satan won? Satan is still a servant, only now he must endure physical pain for eternal life as her serves.
Satan is not a hero; he is merely a criminal who is incapable of seeing beyond his own selfish desires. God’s promise to man is joy and Satan’s is misery. As mankind, why would a person choose to live in misery and pain rather than joy and peace? Satan believes himself to be a ruler of hell but in actuality is a prisoner of his own pride and hate. Although he has followers, Satan himself is under the headship of God. Satan describes God as a tyrant when it is Satan who is a tyrant. God allows man free will to choose between good and evil, while Satan requires only evil.
Satan will never be equal to God because God is the creator of all things. And although Satan will get to many souls the battle is not lost because God allows redemption to mankind. God has a heaven or a hell to condemn man to, while Satan can only offer hell. Their authorities’ are asymmetrical. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ” (John 3:16) Full knowledge of God’s works allows entrance into heaven as the result of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Works Cited Constantakis, Sara. “Overview: Paradise Lost. ” Epics for Students. Ed. 2nd ed.
Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Literature Resource Center. Web. LaBlanc, Michael L. “Paradise Lost. ” Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800. Ed. Vol. 92. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. Miller, Timothy C. “Paradise Lost: Overview. ” Reference Guide to English Literature. Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. 2nd ed. Chicago: St. James Press, 1991. Literature Resource Center. Web. Milton, John. “Paradise Lost: Book 1” Lewalski, Barbara K. and Maus, Katharine Eisaman. The Norton Anthology of English Literature The Sixteenth Century/ The Early Seventeenth Century Volume B. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 1945-1964. Print.