Universe Depict in Paradise Lost Book 2

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      As Milton depicts him there is something majestic about Satan as he sits high on the “throne of Joyal estate’’, ready to make the first speech to the assembly of fallen angels gathered in the hall of Pandemonium. Satan rises to his full height as a leader as he by turn humors, cajoles and ultimately wins the confidence of the fallen angels. Satan may have been expelled from Heaven with his fallen angels but it has not affected his spirits. In fact he sees himself as the leader of the fallen angels. Yet he is careful enough not to make the other angels feel that he has usurped this position. As one used to the art of double speak he plays it both ways. He lauds the fallen angels for making him their leader of their own free choice.

Divine Right

      In the same breath Satan talks of his leadership position almost as a matter of divine right and in accordance with the fixed laws of Heaven. In order to ensure that what he says goes down well with the fallen angels, he holds forth on the hazards of his leadership where he stands exposed to greater risks and dangers than all of them. As such he believes there will be no need for any of them to feel jealous of his position. Ostensibly he asks his followers to choose between an open war against God or action through “covert guile”. But Satan has already made up his mind about his strategy and is cleverly covering up his decision by giving it the appearance of a consensus.

      Moloch is the first to speak after Satan. Milton profiles him in very impressive language. Described as the “sceptered king”, he is strongest and the fiercest spirit who had rebelled against God. Moloch is a militant and he stands for an open war. His stand is based in his belief that the fallen angels have nothing more to fear from God’s wrath, for the outcome can be only annihilation which would be preferable to their present state or some new state of existence and since no state of existence could be worse than the present state, that would be an improvement He is all in favor of an all-out war against God using the very method which he has used to torture them. Like Satan, he panders to the vanity of the fallen angels by saying that according to their nature, they must ascend and rise and not descend and fall. As Moloch speaks he dilutes his concept of total war to a type of guerilla warfare. None the less he swears by plan of revenge against God.

      Belial who follows Moloch is not Milton’s favorite for Milton introduces him with the remark that his thoughts are low, that he understandably has no time for noble deeds. But Milton says he is the most handsome of the angels. The stand he takes is contrary to that of Satan and Moloch. Both “open war” and “covert guile” are anathema to him and he believes in making the best of a bad situation. For him total annihilation is much worse than eternal suffering. He argues that if they accept their present lot submissively, God may have pity on them and reduce their punishment. Even if this does not come about, they would in course of time get conditioned to their suffering in Hell and then it would not be as painful as it is now.

      Mammon is the next speaker after Belial and he more or less underwrites whatever Belial has said. He rejects the concept of war against God and is in favor of maintaining the status quo after their expulsion from Heaven. However, he does not subscribe to Belial’s idea that God in course of time will have mercy and withdraw the punishment imposed on them. He comes out with an original suggestion that having been consigned to Hell they should exploit the hidden treasures of the place like gems and gold and create in Hell a place equal in magnificence to Heaven. His proposal draws a round of applause from the fallen angels.

Appeasement

      Beelzebub who is the last speaker to address the conclave acts as the echo of Satan. He does not exactly fall in line with Satan’s call of an open war against God but at the same time he considers the peace policy of Belial and Mammon as one of appeasement. He is all for taking revenge against God and supports Satan's idea of action in the new world to turn newly created race of man against God. Milton portrays Beelzebub in glowing colors. He occupies a high seat next only to Satan. Hee radiants wisdom in his outlook and compels attention in his address

      He uses the device worked out by Satan to win over the fallen angels he addresses them as "Thrones and Imperial Power offspring of Heaven" and congratulations the angels for supporting his proposal of an invasion of the new world. He calls for volunteers to undertake the journey to the new world stating at the same time that it is fraught with the gravest of dangers.

      Since there are no volunteers Satan takes the floor again to tell them that he fully understood the reasons for their reluctance to undertake such a hazardous journey. As their leader, he adds, it is his duty to undertake the journey for his position draws not only laurels but also dangers. He ends up by stating that they should do all they can to make their present condition tolerable for as long as they have to stay there.

      Soon after his address Satan terminates the meeting fearful that there may be a volunteer for the trip and that would endanger his position.

University Questions

Give an account of the great conclave the fallen angels held at the beginning of Book II of Paradise Lost.
Or
Outline the proceedings of the deliberations of the devils at the beginning of Part II of Paradise Lost.
Or
What were the views expressed by the various devils at their great consultation at the beginning of Book II of Paradise Lost?

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