Chaos and Hell Allusions

In Paradise Lost

Summary

Following the prologue, Milton starts the epic with a description of Satan on his back with the other angels that were sent from heaven to Hell and chained to a lake of fire. The poem starts in the middle of the story, as epics usually do. Satan, who was formally known as Lucifer, banded together with other rogue angels to fight against God. Once they were defeated, they were cast from heaven and condemned to the fiery pits of Hell. While Satan and the others are lying on the lake, he is described "in bulk as huge as who the Fables name as monstrous size", symbolizing his mighty power (196-197). Lying next to Satan is his second in command, Beelzebub. Satan goes on to tell him that he has been transformed for the worse because of the punishment from God. Satan goes on to say he will continue to pursue a victory over God because it is "better to rein in Hell, than to serve in Heav'n" (263).

Purpose

John Milton's purpose of using the allusions of chaos and hell is to "justify the ways of God to men" (26). This means he was trying to reason why God allowed the fall of man to sin. The Bible states that when one dies, their soul either lies in Heaven or Hell for all of eternity. God uses Lucifer as an example to all human beings on earth in which they have a choice to follow him, or fight against him. This decision is the deciding factor when it comes to where your soul will be sent after death. This mattered so much to Milton when he wrote this theme of God versus Satan because he was an avid Christian during his time on Earth and he used his writing as a warning to us in that we should be faithful to God. It is also stated in the Bible that as God's disciples it is our mission to spread the word among humanity. It is because of this mission that Milton wrote this passage the way he did. He is describing Hell as such an awful place so that anyone who reads this epic will repent their sins and follow the word of God.

The chaos that ensues in Paradise Lost started far before the part when Satan and his followers were chained to the fiery lake. It started in heaven when Lucifer and his army of angels began to disband from God and attempt to become equals with him. This resulted in further chaos when Lucifer and his army were damned to hell by God. In a way this was the beginning of chaos in the world as we know it today. Without the episode Lucifer created, the world would live in peace and harmony, because it is Satan who led Eve into temptation to eat the forbidden fruit, which was the origination of earthly sin.

Citations:

The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version. Vol. New International Version. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.


Milton, John. Paradise Lost. N.p.: Sammuel Simmons, 1667. Print.