Paradise Lost Literary Analysis

Powerful Essays
James Gallagher
Professor Bernadette Waterman Ward
Literary Tradition II
Twisted Words of the Great Deceiver
Paradise Lost is John Milton’s epic poem relating the biblical story of the Fall of Man, the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In Book Five, the Archangel Raphael relates to Adam the story of Satan’s rebellion and how Satan incites the fallen angels to join him in defiance of God’s decree announcing His Son as king. Despite already deciding to oppose God, Satan consults the council of angels he summoned at a mount in the North. His address leads the angels away from God, in the far reaches of the North, under the pretense of devising honors to receive the Messiah.
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His argument assumes that the titles confer power. This assumption forms a circular argument. The angels have magnificent titles because they are powerful. They have power because they have magnificent titles. This is not the case because the source of their power has its origin in God, not their title. Satan continues, “...since by decree another now hath to himself engrossed all power.” (5, lines 774-776) by using the words “by decree,” Satan implies that God’s decree is arbitrary, not based on merit. Satan dismissively refers to God as “another,” denying God’s superior, supreme status as Creator. The phrase “now hath to himself engrossed all power,” implies that God did not always have all power, that somehow God has usurped “all power.” Satan indicates that He unjustly took something from the angels. These false implications are unfounded assumptions, making the logic…show more content…
Satan challenges God’s authority proclaiming, “Who can in reason, then, or right assume monarchy over such as live by right his equals if, in power and splendor less, in freedom equal?” (5, lines 794-797) Satan acknowledges that God is more powerful and splendid, but denies God’s authority over angels. By purposely Satan’s argument equates freedom with anarchy; this is absurd. Individual freedom is not completely unrestrained. Free beings are still subject to lawful authority. Satan compounds this fallacy by asserting, without evidence, that angels do not err. Satan asks rhetorically who “…can introduce Law and edict on us who, without law ere not…?” (5, lines 797-799) This is a seductive half-truth, submitted without documentation. The angels, having been continuously subject to God’s Law up to this time, have not erred. But they are about to commit the most grievous err possible in rebelling against God’s authority.
Having argued that God usurped his authority, denigrated the angels rank in heaven’s hierarchy, and that submitting to God’s law is accepting the yoke of slavery, Satan asserts that God is demanding adoration for his abusive behavior claiming, “…much less for this to be our lord, and look for adoration to the abuse. (5, lines 799-800) Making a final emotional appeal to the angels’ pride, Satan falsely asserts that offering homage to God and accepting eternal servitude is eternal slavery
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