Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paradise Lost - Book I

Lines 127-241

Right now Satan is being written as the hero of the story (which, obviously, conflicts with basic theology). He’s just a basic guy rebelling for something he thinks is right. It certainly is interesting to see the Devil being written as so…well, human. There is sort of a sympathetic light being cast on Lucifer right now. We feel bad for the guy – and how can you not, he’s had his dreams and beliefs crushed right before him; he lost. He's been kept prisoner on a Lake of fiery darkness for nine day, his anger growing steadily. No one likes to lose. Especially not in a war.

Beelzebub replies to Lucifer, in Stanza 5 (lines 128 through 156), that he thinks this plan – gathering the forces and trying again – is pretty bad. He sympathizes with Lucifer’s plight, saying basically: “Dude, it I know it sucks, we lost Heaven, we are all in bad shape, and now we are trapped here”, while pumping up his ego (“But what if he out Conquerour, (whom I now/Of force believe Almighty, since no less/Then such could hav orepow’rd such force as ours)” - God really is almighty, how else could he have defeated us?

He asks several questions of Lucifer – “what can it then avail through yet we feel/strength undiminisht, or eternal being/to undergo eternal punishment?” – Why did God keep us alive? Why is he allowing us to keep our souls and feel this wrath? What is our purpose now?

Stanza 6 (lines 157- 191) is Satan’s reply, which comes quickly. “Yeah, it sucks. God wanted us to feel pain- that’s why we still have souls. But we don’t have to follow him anymore.We’re gonna be evil, the exact opposite of what God wants.” Yup. “But ever to do ill our sole delight/as being the contrary to his high will/Whom we resist…Our labour must be to pervert that end [bringing forth good]”.

He then suggests that they rest and gather the forces and “consult how we may henceforth most offend/Our Enemy, our own loss how repair,”. Here Lucifer is showing his skills as a leader – and he seems to be a competent and well adjusted leader. He has realized that they need to rest, regroup and figure things out. With his new goal in mind (making people sin), he resolves to set forth to determine how to achieve his goal and overcome the new obstacles faced before him. Twisted, yes, but it is the logical thing to do.

Never have I thought I would think “Wow this Devil guy is clever, and he’s got his [expletive] together”. Maybe it’s the way the poem is written – Satan as the hero – or the human element written into his character. Its sort of the same feeling I get when I think “Ted Bundy – there’s a guy who knew what he was doing. He was good.”

I think that is just me finding the good in people. I’ve always felt that, even if you don’t like someone or agree with what they have done, you have to respect (even begrudgingly) their talents and abilities. Maybe it goes along the same lines as “hate the sin, love the sinner”. Who knows. At the same time, Satan is a punk – a young kid rebelling against Daddy, thinking he knows what is best, and always going out of his way to stir up trouble.

Man, some characters you just do not want to sympathize with, but can not help it.

In stanza 7 (lines 192-241), there’s a bit of references to Greek and Roman mythology in the beginning, but it is describing the size of the Lake of Fire and Satan. Satan “lay/Chain’d on the burning Lake”, where he was left “at large to his own dark designs”. Simply put, Satan and his little army were chained down on the Lake of fire, trapped like an animal in a cage, so he could sit in his own damnation for eternity and learn his lesson in humility. He breaks these chains, so to speak, and is doomed to being sealed in Hell, from where try to spew malice on to the newest creation - Man.

Satan, his second in command behind him, then flies off of the Lake – which burns “with liquid fire” – and onto dry land. I liked the description of Satan’s flight, Then with expanded wings he stears his flight/Aloft, incumbent on the dusky Air/That felt unusual weight, till on dry Land/He lights”, it creates an intriguing visual of hell and the immense power of Lucifer. I can imagine his once beautiful wings, of immense size, spread out far, beating against the dark sky of Hell, surrounded by fire and despair, with such power that its like they are pressing the sky around him. I imagine that this flight was something of a struggle for Lucifer, who is unused to the heaviness of Hell which is surrounding him. It was probably an awkward flight, like how an astronaut would move if he was sudden placed on Jupiter, where gravity is far stronger than on Earth; I imagine it was jerky and graceless, and he struggled to keep aloft. With relief he settles to the ground.

The next few lines are a description of the land on which he has settled onto. From what I can tell it is windy and desolate, like the left-over after a volcanic eruption, with “a singed bottom all involv’d/With stench and smoak”. What a nasty place – smoky and singed, like the earth is after a volcano. The line after describes Satan’s feet as unblest, which I found slightly amusing as well as a possible reference to Jesus (didn't he walk around barefoot?).

The stanza ends with Satan and Beelzebub standing proudly, as they have recovered their own strength without the help of “supernal Power” (God).

next: lines 242-282, the last bit of conversation between Satan and Beelzebub before they gather up the rest of the fallen angels

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. So much. This seriously has saved me thank you