Idolism and the Meaning of Paradise Lost
Throughout the world, idol of some kind emerge in the practice of most people’s lives. Though mostly unaware, people’s attachment to habits, thinking and physical objects may be viewed as a form of worship reverence. In Paradise Lost, John Milton makes the point of identifying idol worship as not only originating in the realign of the spirit, but a practice that is expressly human, a practice Milton would have readers believe is fundamentally evil. Through the term evil leaves little much for debate. Satan’s fallen expressed thoughts, feelings and ideas that suggest evil is hardly a one dimensional term or concept.
Satan is one of the central characters of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost which is based on the Christian story of the fall of humanity. The beginning of the process of Satan’s devolution is depicted in the first book when he starts forming an army of fallen angels who worships him, in planning a rebellion against God. “Had cast him out from Heav’n with all his host of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring to set his glory above his peers…war in Heav’n and battle proud with vain attempt.” (Milton 776) In Isaiah 14:13, it states that Satan desired to be the leader in heaven above all the angels. Therefore, we see here that Paradise Lost rendition of this even synchronizes with the biblical account. Satan was cast to earth as well as those angels who chose to follow his corrupt ways. A third of angels listened to Satan’s devious plans to convey the throne of God and hoping to rule the universe. Being the first to recover from the stupor into which all the rebel angels fall. He finds that his compeer Beelzebub is much changed. So he makes a cautious approach, for he is not sure whether his friend is in a mood to blame him or he still loves him. Milton’s Satan is a very complex character. His character changes dramatically from his first appearance in addressing his legions. He is the main reason of the fall of mankind, and he is the main reason for this whole poem. Satan, whom angel name was Lucifer, is a fallen angel. Due to his great pride, he defied god and tried to overthrow him and he was thrown out of heaven, after his failed attempt.
Even coming to realization that God’s power cannot be overcome, Satan suggests uniting the efforts of all his followers for planning a rebellion against God, convincing his followers to make evil out of good. “To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet regaining Heaven.” Milton Presents Satan as a military angel who manages to unite hundreds of thousands of fallen angels for creating a powerful army of demons to join him the quest to defeat God in the first book. The other fallen angels abides to what Satan says because they have no other god to worship since they along with Satan were cast out of heaven and neither of them wants to take up that responsibility to lead a crowd, let alone gather an army. Satan is out to get vengeance with God, in turning everything good into bad but can’t accomplish this duty alone so he uses legions by uplifting their hopes to believe that his plan to destroy God will succeed and the thorn will once be his and theirs. Satan may be useless when it comes to fighting ten thousand of Christ’ fury, but in his will he is free and in his mind he is supreme. The process of Satan’s devolution was not over and at this stage; Satan’s plans needed to become more sophisticated so he gathers other suggestions from his legions.
The direct protests and attacks are replaced with the insidious plans of tempting men and hurting the feelings of God who favors this newly created race. Milton also has to explain how Satan is able to convince humans to turn away from a just and loving God he does this by making his legions say what they think should be the right thing to do. “Beelzebub pleaded his devilish counsel…to confound the race of mankind in one root…done all to spite the great creator.” The simple act that Satan made the other fallen angel gave some suggestions makes him an even better idol among them all. In a similar paper found online written by Sehrish Liaquat Awan, she states that “Satan’s mind is not only unconquerable it also influences other minds to use their freewill to oppose the will of God and this is where.” With the opportunity to hear share their ideas, Satan gets them motivated in making evil defeat good and making them think outside their comfort zone in exposing their hate towards God and true evilness that lies within. “Satan…raised above his fellows…” After the debate of their plan Satan then addresses that he will be the one who goes through the gates to destroy mankind. Most readers believe that Satan was an antagonist because he went with Beelzebub’s suggestion instead of the other fallen angel’s one. Obviously, Satan wasn’t cast down from heaven for doing well so of course he would go with Beelzebub’s idea to destroy God’s creation in the flesh. If Satan was obviously an antagonist, his ability to manipulate the other characters would cease to be believable; either the reader would have difficulty suspending their disbelief or they would be forced to come to incorrect conclusions about other characters.
In conclusion, in both books 1 and 2, Milton describes his Satan as to be an idol among his legions. Satan was the god down in hell, he was the one on the throne leading an army of fallen angels to help him condemn mankind and get the throne from God to rule the world. Many people have mixed views of what Satan was in Paradise Lost. Even though there were examples trying to prove him as an idol. He had many courageous and brave scenes where only an idol could have done some of the things he did. A regular person would not have been able to make an army feel that they can defeat God. Only an idol a leader could do such a thing and would be willing to lead the charge against the greatest power in the world. They also worshiped him because of his great and clever mind. Milton’s Satan was the highest among the other falling angels because he was so persistent in corrupting anything God did well with evil.
Idolism and the Meaning of Paradise Lost