In the story “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, Satan decides to rebel against God. When Satan loses the battle, he is punished with banishment to Hell along with the other fallen angels. Satan decides to build a palace, Pandemonium, in Hell in order to rule over the devils. Satan is determined to live as he wishes with no remorse. He wants revenge against God and decides to create chaos on Earth by destroying God’s newest creation, man. An individual has the ability to take different roles in a society depending on what is necessary to achieve a goal, just as Satan does in Heaven, Hell and on Earth.
Satan is evil no matter where he resides. The setting begins in the biblical Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Eve with fruit from a forbidden tree which brings death into the world. The poem’s setting then changes to follow Satan’s banishment to Hell as punishment by God. Satan directed the other devils to build his palace named Pandemonium.
They built a palace among the darkness that “…by subtle magic many a row of starry lamps and blazing cressets fed with naphtha and asphaltus yielded light as from a sky” (Milton, p 1513, lines 727-730). The devil angels filled the palace with rows of lamps that filled the darkness to make it look like daylight.
Satan appears to be all powerful in Hell and reveals that he can make his place feel like Heaven, with light and music. Once Pandemonium is completed the devil angels fill the palace “with hundreds and with thousands trooping” (Milton, p 1513, line 760).
The enormous size of the number of devils is revealed as they arrive to hear Satan give his commands. Satan is determined to gather the devils and plan how to rebel against God and create chaos on Earth. In Hell, Satan is a respected leader that is looked up upon by the other devils. The devils built Satan’s palace and follow his commands without questioning his leadership. Among his society in Hell, Satan’s authority is undeniable and his devils will support his quest to destroy man to spite God.
The author, Milton, uses similes to give the reader perspective on the importance of size in Pandemonium. When describing the shield that Satan wore on his back the author says that “…the broad circumference hung on his shoulders like the moon…” (Milton, p 1502, lines 286-287). The reader can imagine that Satan must be huge if his shield looks as large as the moon. When Milton describes Satan’s spear he says that it could “…be the mast of some great ammiral” (Milton, p 1503, lines 293-294). Satan’s spear is so tall that it looks like a mast of a ship. The most powerful devil is the largest and Satan’s relationships in the society within Hell are visible for all of the devils to witness. When the devils filled Pandemonium, the less powerful spirits shrank in size in order to fit while the more powerful devils were not required to shrink.
The most powerful evil spirits are easily identified by their large size in Pandemonium, with Satan dwarfing all others to appear strong. Rather than repent for his sins, Satan uses his large size to gather the other devils and figure out how to live well while getting pleasure from committing evil acts. While Satan’s size and command makes him superior among the devils, “The boasting he did had a great cost to him emotionally because he knew that in the end he could not compete with God, yet he had to hide that fact from his fellow demons” (Reis). Among his devil peers, Satan appears physically strong which convinces his society that he is qualified to lead a victorious battle against man to hurt God. As a leader, he cannot show his society any weakness and keeps his doubts to himself. Satan does not have to hide his evil intentions in Hell, but he does not share his fears or reveal his true self.
On Earth, a transformation takes place. Satan retains his evil qualities and motives, but he is no longer a leader. Satan knows that God created man and is more powerful, but his desire to create chaos and seek revenge remains strong. Satan arrives on Earth alone and must use his ability to transform to fool man and corrupt mankind. Satan successfully tricks the angel Uriel into believing he is a cherub with “…false dissembler unperceived: For neither man nor angel can discern Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks Invisible, except to God Alone, By his permissive will…” (Milton, p 1552, lines 681-685). He knows he must pretend to be a part of God’s society if he is to find Adam and Eve. Satan also realizes that he can only be successful in fooling Uriel because God allows it to happen. Satan converts himself into different creatures to communicate with man since “Satan has a dark charisma (“he pleased the ear”) and a revolutionary demand for self-determination” (Ramm). Despite knowing God’s will is superior, Satan refuses to give up because he would prefer to fight then be a servant in Heaven.
As an angel in Heaven, Satan falls out of God’s favor and is punished with banishment to Hell because he is not devoted to God. The society of angels reject Satan and recognize he is evil based on God’s orders. As a leader in Hell, Satan expects his society of devils to be obedient to him and follow his command. They are blind to Satan’s weaknesses and support his quest to conquer man. As a trespasser on Earth, Satan is jealous of God’s power. Satan knows he will not be accepted by society and therefore must resort to trickery to convince the angels to help him and corrupt man. Since Satan knows he is not powerful enough to defeat God in a direct battle, he decides destroying God’s creation is a worthy fight. Satan’s flexibility among societies helps him achieve his goal and create chaos on Earth.