Paradise Lost Book 2: Line 6-9 - Explanation

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Line 6-9: From despair.....with Heaven.

      Satan, overthrown by God from Heaven, recovers from his stupor on the burning lake of Hell, and after assembling all his followers in the hall of Pandemonium, seats himself on an exalted throne, and consults them about their future plan of action. The poet here describes him as he took his seat one the throne. Though his position had been very desperate only recently, yet, the common consent by which everyone seemed to look up to him as his natural leader, filled him with high ambition, and he aspired to a position higher than the leader of a rebel host, not being satisfied yet with the pursuit of a war with Heaven. He hoped yet to wage war with the Almighty and to unseat Him from His throne in the Empyrean.

      The 'despair' is a reference to the hopeless condition in which he was some time ago, when after having fallen from Heaven he lay prone on the burning flood in Hell, tormented by the fire, and more by the shame of his defeat. In that position he had never hoped that he could yet become the leader of his rebel band, for it had been he who had brought them all to the same pass with himself. But when he rose from the lake, he was satisfied to find that the other rebels looked upon him yet as their leader. Thus his elevation once again was beyond what he had ever hoped; and this filled him with higher aspirations yet. He longed for a higher dignity than the mere leadership of the angels in Hell. He desired to unseat God from His throne, and climb into it. He was dissatisfied therefore with his present lot, and most eager to pursue his vengeance against God.

      These lines show the overweening ambition of Satan, who could not learn a lesson from his recent experiences.

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