English Lecture “Paradise Lost” January 20, 2011
Force + Fraud
4. Homeric Similes
5. In medias res
“No man can serve two masters: You cannot serve God and Mammon”
radix malorum cupiditas est: the love of money/ wealth is the root of all evil
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- Satan is enormously complexly evil
- He is completely alienated from God. He’s made a series of choices that have taken him further
down until he’s now at the limit of alienation.
-He does not change throughout the poem. He may seem to, but he is always inside the
same thoroughly evil figure.
- He is also enormously appealing.
- He needs to make Satan a credible leader of ⅓ of the angels that are rebelling against
God. Without him being so persuasive and attractive he wouldn’t be believable.
- First big speech he has at l.84 of Book 1:
-There is disordered quality in the syntax of his speech, ungrammatical.
- l.94 we learn 5 things about Satan:
- he is completely unrepentant. He will never change.
- Shapeshifter. Toad, snake, etc.
- He always is in the same mood, the same mindset. He wants to destroy Adam
-l.98: hurt pride, damaged ego. He takes his grudge forward and uses it for his
motivation for destroying Adam and Eve.
-l.114: we can see that he’s self deluded. He says that the war in heaven was a dubious
battle, outcome never determined, God sometimes doubted his empire. This is false,
God is omnipotent. God is still in control; there was no doubt about the outcome of the
war in heaven.
- l.116: Satan believes in fate and the strength of Gods. He doesn’t believe in one God.
- l.118: He is resolved in his pride, his irrationality, his deludedness, his mistaken belief
that he can find God by destroying God. He says there is hope in Hell but there isn’t, he
has no hope.
-Calls God a tyrant. Satan is the tyrant though, what he doesn’t understand is that he’s
the one who’s enslaved to a kind of tyrant; himself. To serve God is to be free, to serve
one self is to be enslaved.
- Satan can seem enormously attractive. So the narrator steps in to tell us how we should be
- Whatever Satan says, he is in pain. All this talk of hope should be set aside, what he is
really feeling inside is despair. English Lecture “Paradise Lost” January 20, 2011
- Narrator comments on Satan again on l.599: He has a twisted Pride, he has a twisted
mind that thinks in a bizarre way. Narrator seems to be sympathetic towards Satan, a
little bit swayed by him. But then he realizes that all Satan is doing is displaying the
signs of remorse; not true remorse. Again and again the narrator will key us to how we
should respond to Satan.
- As Book 1 proceeds the Narrator piles on the negative comments on Satan.
- As we move into Book 2 we have to realize that the debate between the fallen angels has been
rigged by Satan. Just a waste of time because Satan already knows what’s going to happen.
- When Beelzebub believes God almighty, Satan counters him.
- Satan’s favourite word: never. ‘Never’ excludes all choices. It’s a word that gives him all the
- Satan suffers from ill will. Will that is sick and malevolent. Words are pulled together like that
so we can hear the connection between them.
- We see Satan as petty, a small minded person who wants to make someone unhappy.
- Satan described as ‘great sultan’ by narrator.
- At this time a Sultan was regarded as a Pagan and Tyrannical ruler. This is negative
politically and theologically.
- Satan rules by fear.
- He is an archetypal, manipulative politician. Satan is enormously attractive. Despite all the
negative qualities, despite all the narrator’s under cutting’s of him, that we should realize that
everything he says has no substance; he is still a powerful speaker.
- You can see why Satan would be so appealing to Shelley and Blak