Essay:Paradise Lost; Ramblings about Lucifer
Paradise Lost, by John Milton, is really most remembered for the passage of Lucifer/Satan/Al Pacino/Old Boy/Whatever. Tossed into Hell with Beelzebub he has an interesting speech, but we only remember one piece of it. However I find the parts leading up to it and past it are just as interesting.
….Farewell, happy fields!
- Where joy forever dwells! Hail! Horrors! Hail
Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell!
- Receive thy new possessor, one who brings
A mind not changed by place or time
- The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven
- What matter where, if I be the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
- Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
- Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
- To reign is worth ambition, through in Hell;
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
- But wherefore we let we then our faithful friends,
The associates and copartners of our loss,
- Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
- In this unhappy mansion, rather once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
- Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?
Like a child, Lucifer/Satan/Serpent/Old Scratch/Etc throws a fit before taking a deep breath and calming himself. Realizing their ‘freedom’, he declares them rulers of this depressive place (although Beelzebub who was also cast from Heaven reminds Lucy that they may just be playing into god’s hand).
Many portray him as a tragic hero in this piece. Some see him as a spoiled sort of character getting his face bitchslapped with reality.
However, if we do subscribe to the theory that Lucifer/Satan was the Serpent from the Garden of Eden, and reading Paradise Lost… could we assume he is in fact one of the greatest characters in history? He gave humans the ability to reason and to separate the concepts of good and evil, he gave them free will. He also stood up to god, who has serious control issues as well as a superiority complex.
It is an interesting sort of thought, but I do remember that Satan/Lucifer/The Devil/Martin is always supposed to be the eternal ‘antagonist’. Although god seems more evil to me, but this is just a modern view. I wonder what Milton thought of it though? Did he see the Devil as something evil? Or merely misunderstood? It's likely he may as well have thought of the Devil as some insidious being, and this was his punishment. But did he subconsciously have his doubts written out, or his true beliefs on the matter? For were not Adam and Eve merely puppets of amusement to god? Perhaps this was what he believed, and rather than risk trouble he had them written out merely as poetry. I am more than likely over thinking this, perhaps. Milton was no deist, after all. But this does not dissuade me from examining this small piece, and following my own interpretation; as all do for creative works.
My personal thoughts on this is that it's better to be thoughtful on Earth, than mindless in Eden.