April 5: Paradise Lost Book 9

Upon reaching Eden, Satan marvels at the splendor of the earth, describing it as a “terrestrial heaven” and claiming “with what delight I could walkt thee round”. It is clear that Satan certainly has mixed feelings about corrupting mankind, why do you think he ultimately decides to go forward with his endeavor? What does Satan’s decision to corrupt man say about his personality?

14 thoughts on “April 5: Paradise Lost Book 9

  1. Despite Satan’s mixed feelings towards corrupting mankind, he goes forward with his plan anyway, once more, because of his pride. This isn’t the first time he’s doubted himself; it’s happened several times before at the sight of God’s creations. But Satan eventually talks himself back into his wicked plans because he comes to the realization, each time as if for the first time, that these majesties were not created for him. His jealousy, his prideful belief that he should be the won to whom the splendors are given, refuels him whenever he runs into doubt. To back out now would mean he’d have to admit he was wrong, and if he admits he was wrong he’d have to go back under the rule of God and relinquish his position as “top dog.” If we know anything about Satan at this point, it’s that he wants to be the best there is, the strongest, the most powerful, the one who has dominion over everything in creation. He essentially wants to be God, and he believes that the way to defeat Him is to corrupt His creations and turn them back on Him. This shows how deeply within him his pride runs, and shows that no matter the obstacle, Satan will always try to push through it in the vain attempt to pervert God’s world in spite of Him.

    • I think we can easily infer from Milton’s text that Satan, upon seeing the splendor of God’s creation, that he is emboldened further to destroy it.
      “When satan, who late fled before the threats
      Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv’d
      In meditated fraud and malice, bent
      On Man’s destruction, maugre what might hap
      Of heavier on himself, fearless returned
      By night he fled, and at midnight returned
      From compassing the earth; cautious of day…”

      Satan here seeks to torment and humiliate God as he himself feels he has been made a fool for being kicked out of heaven. I agree with your analysis of pride composing the majority of Satan’s character by this point. Particularly your comment about how his jealousy of God’s throne refueling his own pride is spot on, and I think this is supported very well by the text.

  2. Although Satan comments on the beauty of Earth and his envy of Adam and Eve, he never wavers from his destructive plans. I feel that Satan’s continuous dissonance is a tool for Milton to show the complexity of Satan as a character and by proxy, evil itself. Time and time again, Satan doubts himself and his evil plans, all the time stating that he knows it would have been better for him to have stayed with God in Heaven. However, his pride always gets in the way of what little morality he seems to still have, leading to his evildoings.

    • I totally agree with you here. Despite how much Satan may find Eden beautiful, he is still evil. His envy and his hatred overpower any good that may be left in him. His pride, like you said, is also a major issue. He won’t give God the satisfaction of him finding anything God does worth his while. In the end, he goes with his plan to corrupt humanity.

  3. Satan does remark on the beauty of the Earth, stating “O Earth, how like to Heav’n, if not preferred” (99). It is clear that Earth, and the Garden of Eden in general, reminds him of Heaven and the time when he was held in God’s honor. I believe that he decided to go forward with his ploy to corrupt mankind because he is reminded by Adam and Eve and their perfection of his fall from Heaven. He says “For only in destroying I find ease,” resolving to destroy mankind once and for all (129). He is jealous of the perfection of humans and of the world they inhabit. He is bitter than if he wants to exist, even briefly, in this world, he must do it disguised as a beast/snake. He feels reduced to a form that is below him, and his anger at God for casting him out of Heaven and condemning him quickly resurfaces. Satan’s decision to corrupt man implies that he is egoistic and vindictive. He may have moments of near-sympathy and regret for what he is about to do, but ultimately his covetous nature obscures any goodness that remains in his character.

  4. Satan does describe earth as a “terrestrial heaven” and claiming “with what delight I could walkt thee round”. However, I think he goes through with his plan to corrupt mankind because he wants to punish God in a way. Also Satan is all about power so corrupting mankind shows how much power and influence he has. Satan’s choice to corrupt mankind shows that evil sometimes can over power good. And there is no such thing as a perfect world, as long as there is bad in the world. Satan’s personality shows imperfections in something that was suppose to be so pure.

  5. It is clear from the text Satan looks upon Terrestrial Earth as he describes it with great awe for the power which the supreme ruler wields. When in line 114 when he says “With what delight could I have walked thee round, If I could joy in aught” Satan concedes an internal conflict which he carries with him wherever he goes. No where on Earth between any river, valley, or rock could keep Satan from feeling constantly tormented. Even worse would he feel if he was allowed in Paradise while God rules. His plight is not as much out of inherent evil as it is a necessary reaction to the condition bestowed upon Satan by God. It is thus that instead of “hoping to make himself less miserable” (126) Satan enters Paradise so that he too may corrupt God’s creations and win over their trust with the intention of destroying their God given purity. This inherently characterizes Satan as a sore loser. He’s someone with all the natural talent and power in the world who felt he could exploit the system for more. Milton ensures Satan embodies the contempt man often carries when they have been wronged. Satan was given the opportunity to create his own alternative in Pandemonium but instead chose to wage war against God and his creations.

  6. Satan personifies three of the seven deadly sins through his words and actions: envy, wrath, and pride. Satan has fully come into his own by the ninth book in “Paradise Lost,” becoming the Devil we all know him to be. Satan’s motivations are no longer selfless, as they may have been in book two, but simply selfish and “bent on man’s destruction” (ll. 55-6). He also says, “For only in destroying I find ease” (l. 129). This prideful vengeance stems from his envy of Earth, “‘how like to Heav’n, if not preferred more justly, seat worthier of gods, as built with second thoughts, reforming what was old!” (ll. 99-102). Satan may exhibit inhibitions towards the destruction of mankind at first, because they are ultimately innocent, but decides to go through with it as a punishment to God. The difference between Satan’s actions against God in the first book and in the ninth book shows the evolution of his personality; although Satan’s desire to destroy God is constant, he didn’t risk innocent lives in the first book and his motivation to destroy God was because he believed God to be an unworthy king, but now Satan’s only motivated by envy and his own pride, which is also why he happens to continue towards destroying mankind. He follows through with his plan because he wants to destroy God, as he always has, but now he only wants to destroy God through mankind for selfish reasons. Finally, after having “created”(?) Original Sin by having Adam and Eve bite the forbidden fruit, Satan succeeded in having “they in mutual accusation spent the fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,” because he wanted to succeed in saving nobody but himself (ll. 1187-88).

  7. Milton’s depiction of Satan is multifaceted and complex, as opposed to the traditional view of Satan as a figure of pure immorality. This dichotomy is shown through situations such as this scene, where Satan recognizes the difference between good and evil and must actively make the choice to side with evil despite seeing the benefits that could come from the good. In this case, Satan sees the resemblance between the purity of Heaven and Earth, remarking: “Oh Earth, how like to Heav’n if not preferred” (99). It’s interesting that he places Earth in a category potentially more lovely than Heaven itself, heaven being the epitome of purity. With that in mind, his choice to corrupt mankind further characterizes him as an evil being with knowledge of the harm he causes, which is arguably worse than action without knowledge of the consequences. I think he goes forth with his plan as a greater means of exerting his power in a show of dominance toward God.

  8. Satan is impressed with Earth immediately upon seeing it; he claims it better than heaven, “With second thoughts, reforming what was old!” (101). It’s apparent that he wishes he could enjoy the wonders of Earth, but he knows he cannot and thus is tortured by them because they remind him of what he used to have in heaven. Satan does not want to admit that he messed up rebelling against God, so even though he loves this creation, his pride gets in the way and he decides he must corrupt it. I think the decision to corrupt or put down things that a person has failed at is normal, so Satan’s reaction is quite in line with an often response from humans. This also shows the complexity of his character. Milton’s Satan is more than just pure evil, he has layers of pride, regret, and jealousy to him that shape his actions.

  9. I think Satan decides to go forward with his plan to destroy mankind because the sight of what was created enraged him even more. Some parts of earth reminded him of heaven. In lines 115-121, He describes how it would be nice to walk amongst the paradise but it makes him angry that God created it. He seems to become more jealous and filled with hate the more he admires the place. He acknowledges its beauty but for that same reason it must be destroyed to spite God. This suggest that Satan is very envious and petty. Envious because he would like to have the paradise or heaven only if God isn’t in charge of all of it, it has to be ruled by him. Petty because he knows he can’t harm God directly so he picks on weaker beings with hopes to hurt God. To let God know that he (Satan) isn’t the only bad apple in the bunch and with a little persuasion he could control his creations.

  10. I think that Satan does not necessarily have mixed feelings about corrupting mankind so much that he is envious of the world that humans get to reside in. He is struck by the beauty and inner-workings of Earth as he states in lines 110-113 when he says that “all their known virtue appears” and “growth, sense, reason, all summed up in man.” I don’t think that Satan feels guilty about corrupting mankind from a morality standpoint, he feels more guilt towards the fact that he is bringing evil into this naturally perfect new world that he himself wants to be a part of. I think that Satan going along with his plan continues to show how he has accepted his role as a force of evil. He knows that there’s no going back from this point, along with the fact that he’s still determined to mess with God. He does feel conflicted about it, but its from a kind of jealous standpoint, and the fact that he continues with his plan just shows how accepting he is of the role that he has to carry out from now on.

  11. I didn’t read this as Satan having mixed feelings, instead I just read it as a pause do to surprise. He keeps be taken aback in moments like this, where he is clearly upset by creations and places not meant for him. His hesitation isn’t him reconsidering his choice but instead taking in this world that remind him of Heaven, but possibly better which we see when he says “how like to Heav’n, if not preferred more justly, seat worthier of Gods” (99-100). His decision to go forward and his motivation shows his determination. But above all the way that he is fueled by revenge towards God and jealousy towards Adam and Eve, leaving Satan with the feeling that “only in destroying [does he] find ease” (129).

  12. I have to agree with Joyce on this one. I didn’t see Satan as having mixed feelings about corrupting Earth and Adam and Eve. I think he was more surprised at its’ beauty and jealous that he does not get to enjoy such a beautiful place and that it was not created for him. I think this only fueled his jealousy and and gave him an even greater thirst for revenge.
    I like how Morgan points out that Milton’s Satan is multi-faceted and complex and we get to see the changing of emotions of Satan, because I agree with this as well. Throughout the books that we have read, Satan clearly has emotional attachments to God and appreciates the beauty that he creates, but because he no longer gets to enjoy the beauty of God’s new creations with him, he wants to ruin it for Him. This is very spiteful of Satan and he clearly wants revenge for being kicked out of Heaven.

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