March 24th. Paradise Lost book 2 Posted on March 22, 2016 by riverave Who does Satan meet at the gates of Hell? How does he get through the gates? What does Satan end up learning from them?
At the gates of Hell, Satan meets Sin and Death. Sin is his direct offspring, who is half-woman and half-serpent. She is also shrouded by Hell Hounds, who are constantly barking and tormenting her. Death is the son of both Sin and Satan, and he is perceived as “black…as night, / Fierce as ten furies, terrible as Hell” (670-71). He gets through the gates by promising Sin and Death, who are both gatekeepers, that he will set them free from “this dark and dismal house of pain” (823). He explains to them his plan to corrupt and destroy Earth, and he promises that both of them will find solace there. Aside from his relationship to them, he learns that they have been entrusted with the only keys to Hell’s gate by God. However, Sin tells Satan that God hates her, and that he has thrust her against her will into the depths of Hell for the sole purpose of performing this duty. She is constant pain and agony, and Death has been cursed to feel extreme famine. Thus, they are readily in agreement with Satan’s plan and are happy to help him invade Earth to achieve their own selfish ends.
When Satan reaches the gates of Hell he is faced with a half-woman, half-snake creature and a shadow-like creature. He quickly learns that the woman is his daughter, Sin, who was born from his skull when his head burst into flames in Heaven (lines 752-758). The shadow creature is Satan and Sin’s son, Death, who was conceived in Heaven. Sin and Death are forced to guard the gates to Hell but Sin decides to disobey God’s command, saying: “But what I owe I to His commands above…Thou [Satan] art my father, thou art my author” (856-864). Sin has the power to open the gate, but doesn’t have the ability to close it again.
When Satan reaches the nine gates of Hell he sees a creature with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of what seems to be a snake. The other creature he sees resembles a shadow. He picks the shadow to confront, but meets opposition when he asks to be let inside Hell. Just before he and the shadow are about to go at each other, the snake-lady steps in and explains to Satan that She is his daughter, Sin. She spawned from his head and was later incestuously impregnated by Satan. The product of that was the shadow figure, Death. Death later raped his very mother and that is the reason for the vicious dogs that torment her day and night. When Satan realizes these things, he is calmed and he gets his children to unite with him against God, convincing Sin to open the gates and let him pass.
Morgan and Ebby already commented on the relationship between Death and Sin to Satan, but have not mentioned their relationship to the hell hounds. Milton writes, “[Death] Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed, / And, in embraces forcible and foul / Engendering with me, of that rap.e begot / These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry / Surround me” (792-796). So Death, who is the incestuous son of Satan and Sin, rap.ed his mother, Sin, to create the hell hounds that surround Sin in the underworld. Even more disturbing, however, is what the hell hounds do to their mother. The text reads, “when they list, into the womb / That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw / My bowels” (798-800). So Sin’s children climb back into her womb and “gnaw” her organs.
Satan meets Sin and Death at the gates of Heaven, learning what they mean to him. Sin is between Death and Satan, and she reveals that she is Satan’s progeny as well, “Likest to thee in shape and count’nance bright … Out of thy head I sprung” (lines 756, 758). If Sin being Satan’s daughter isn’t creepy enough, the fact that Satan then had a sexual relationship with her to produce Death should suffice in the creep factor. Thus, Death is Satan’s son and grandson. Wait, it gets betters. Death r*ped his own mother/sister (lines 790-795; I don’t want to repeat the lines). Sin is also the one to open hell’s gates in spite of (or to spite) God, who had forbade her to do so. She does it because she was exiled from heaven, because God dislikes her and because she’s Satan’s family (lines 850-879). What a family reunion.
Satan meets Sin and Death at the gates of Hell, who initially don’t want to let him through and inform him that they are in fact his offspring. Sin was born out of Satan’s treacherous acts against God and Satan impregnated her, spawning Death. Death then went on to r.ape his mother who gave birth to a pack of dogs who now live in and around her. This is all news to Satan who initially wants to fight them in order to gain access to Earth, but after Sin explains who she and Death are, Satan calms down and explains his plan to overthrow God and corrupt mankind. Sin allows him to leave Hell and she and Death follow him as he tries to enter Earth.
When Satan reaches the gates of Hell, he meets Sin and Death. From Sin, he learns that “[o]ut of thy head I sprung” (758) . After Sin tells him that Sin is born from Satan, he learns from her that he had impregnated her with Death. So, he learns that Sin is his child, as is Death with Sin. Sin is also the gatekeeper to the gates of heaven and lets Satan know by telling him “[t]hese gates for ever shut, which none can pass/ [w]ithout my op’ning” (776-778). From this exchange, Satan also learns that Death raped his mother. At the end of this exchange, the three unite and Sin opens the gates for Satan.
At the gates of Hell, Satan meets a creature with the upper torso of a woman and the bottom half of a snake. This is his daughter, Sin. There is another figure who resembles a shadow and Satan later learns that this is his son, Death. Both Sin and Death are guard-keepers to the gates of Hell. Satan is able to get through the gates by making a promise to his children that he will get them free from hell. Sin was exiled from Heaven by God and now lives in constant pain and agony. Whereas Death was raped by his mother and is cursed to live in famine. Satan then uses these reasons to help unite his children with him in order to open the gates and later invade the Earth.
Satan meets his daughter/ the mother of his other child at the gates, accompanied by a group of furious dogs, and his other child who is essentially a shadow figure. Satan learns from this motley crew that he needs to stop hitting the fireball… or in other words in his angel days he had his daughter by ejecting her from his head. She, by the way goes by the name of Sin and has a half serpent half woman body; a body that must have tempted Satan as he then decided to impregnate her and thus bring about the birth of death (a true satanism if you ask me). Death also raped sin, proving that the apple does not in fact fall far from the tree. Sin and Death now guard the gates of Hell and are key holders.
To add on to what you said about death, Nora I also think having Death as Sin’s offspring symbolically represents Milton’s belief that Death is punishment for a sin and one that no one can escape. Sin is left suffering alone, revealing the fate of a sinner on Earth. The relationship and codependency of the three, Sin, Death, and Satan seem to be an inverse of the Holy Trinity in a slight sense. Satan certainly appears as a perverted Christ figure when he sacrifices himself to visit the gates of Hell.
At the gate, Satan confronts the half-serpent creature Sin and a shadowy creature called Death. He comes to realize Sin is his daughter who was birthed from his skull and Death is their child. Sin and Death were told by God to guard the gates of Hell, however Sin eventually opens the gates for her father expressing, “Thou art my father, thou my author, thou / My being gav’st me; whom should I obey / But thee?” (lines 864-66). Satan also learns that Death later raped his mother, Sin, and that is why there are demon dogs surrounding her and tormenting her always.