Analysis of Satan's Speech in in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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Analysis of Satan's Speech in Milton's Paradise Lost

John Milton's Paradise Lost is a work of enduring charm and value because of its theological conceptions, its beautiful language, and its "updating" of the epic to the modern world's values. Book II of this epic poem opens with Satan's speech to his minions in hell, proposing war on Heaven itself. In these first 44 lines, Satan is clearly established as epic hero, but at the same time is theologically/morally denounced by the speaker.

This section of the poem opens by establishing Satan's position of power and prestige:

High on a throne of royal state, which far

Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

Or where the gorgeous East with
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Satan proceeds to address his gathered host of followers who with him were thrown out of heaven. He addresses them as "Powers and Dominions, deities of Heaven," (II. 11), appeasing their egos and appealing to their desire for power and control. He justifies this, despite their recent loss, "for since no deep within her gulf can hold/Immortal vigor, though oppressed and fall'n/I give not Heav'n for lost," (II. 12-14). Because of the strength and power of those doomed to hell for all eternity, they will be able to re-conquer Heaven despite what God did to them. He proceeds to say that, "From this descent/Celestial Virtues rising, will appear/More glorious and more dread than from no fall," (II. 14-16) because the struggles of living in Hell will increase the power and glory of the gifts of each of the fallen. As a result of these assertions of the power and might of the denizens of hell, Satan asserts that they, "trust themselves to fear no second fate." (II. 17)

Satan follows this speech appeasing the egos of his followers by commenting on his own prowess and virtues.

Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heav'n

Did first create your leader, next, free choice,

With what besides, in counsel or in fight,
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