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I don’t know what it says about me as an English major but I was mostly bored in book II, and it was a struggle to get through the entire thing. 

Book II starts wonderfully with Satan taking the Hellish throne by stating:

 “Me though just right and the fixed laws of Heaven                                                                                                                                              Did first create your leader, next, free choice,                                                                                                                                                       With what besides council or in fight,                                                                                                                                                                    Hath been achieved of merit, yet this loss                                                                                                                                                             Thus far at least recovered, hath much more                                                                                                                                            Established in a safe unenvied throne                                                                                                                                                                Yielded with full consent” (Lines 18-24)

And then later:

 …but who here                                                                                                                                                                                                                Will envy whom the highest place exposes                                                                                                                                                   Foremost to stand against the Thunderer’s aim” (27-29).  

(btw: Im sick of fixing the format, so deal)

 Satan is basically just taking the throne, well, just because– and besides, who else is going to want to be God’s number one enemy. Satan then opens up the floor for discussion on what to do next. There is some great irony here in that these demons are so faithful and obedient to Satan and so democratic and logical in their business meeting. Satan wants there to be, “…union, and firm faith, and firm accord” (36).

What follows is Moloch’s speech in which he says he prefers oblivion– to not exist– over Hell. He says that since they have nothing to lose, they should attack Heaven again and even if they don’t win, the attack itself will be revenge enough. It is a nice speech and quite entertaining, but then Belial speaks, and Belial reminds me of an Oscar Wilde foil. A character who says nothing but empty musing but says those musings so well. 

Belial’s speech is much more reasoned and thought out than Moloch. Belial reasons that Moloch is wrong in assuming that things can’t get worse than Hell. He points out that being stuck in the river was worse, and he points out that the only reason they are not already oblivion is because God has chosen not to destroy them because God will know what punishment will best fit them. What, after all, could they really do against Heaven when God is all knowing? God will know that they are coming, and Heaven is too well guarded for any kind of surprise attack. 

Belial then shows more wonderful rhetorical flair reminding me of Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy:

Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,

Belike through impotence, or unaware,

To give his enemies their wish, and end

Them in his anger, whim his anger saves

To punish endless? (150-159).

 Belial reminds his fellow fallen angels that things could be worse, and that they only have it “so good” because God has deemed this punishment worthy of their crimes, but that if God wanted, he could do things that would be much worse for them all.

He goes on to remind them that if they live out their punishment then maybe one day will forgive them and let them back into Heaven.  Besides, he says, we can get used to this after a while, “This horror will grow mild, this darkness light” (220).

The language here is amazing, and these speeches are a great display of rhetoric, but empty in the end. They are like politicians today—just shallow words to play up to the audience. This whole thing still bothers me though because God knows this is going on—God knows these demons are planning on tempting his creations—so? How does that work? Free will is all well and good, but how are humans supposed to resist the temptation of the Satan? There is a parallel here: Satan’ pride led to his down fall as did man’s pride, and in both cases Satan and Man, they took someone with them.

 Satan wanted to not be ruled by God or to have to worship Him, and Eve wanted to know what God knows, but they couldn’t do it on their own, they had to infect others with this curiosity and bring down their peers with them.

 The rest of book two was a chore.

 Mammon speaks next—and in existential fashions—suggest that they make the best of it here. That rather than wait for salvation or forgiveness, they work together to make a Heaven out of Hell. This echoes Satan’s initial speech in which Satan says he would rather rule in Hell than serve in heaven. Mammon says he does not want to praise a God he hates, which leads me to wonder: so what if you are in Heaven, and you don’t necessarily want to praise God, but you don’t really have anything against him? As Mammon points out, “how wearisome/ Eternity so spent in worship paid” (247)—and forget that he says “To whom we hate” what if you like the guy but just don’t want to praise him everyday?

 Is God so petty and bored that he wants you to constantly be singing his praise. As a poor graduate student, I have borrowed money from family and friends, but under the condition that I won’t be reminded of doing so. I’m mean, yes, ok, thank you and I’m happy, but if you are going to constantly throw it in my face that you lent me the money, well then, I don’t want it. Did God really just create humanity so that we can praise him whenever we have free time? But that isn’t to say I want to rise up against him and dethrone him. It just means I want to say thanks and go do my thing. I want to hear the story of the Angels who sympathized with the fallen angels, but who don’t see violence as the answer. I mean, I’m sure God is a rational diety, and if they would have just talked it out some good compromise could have been reached.

 I digress: Everyone loves Mammon’s idea and cheer him for it. They too would rather just make the best of it in Hell than wait for forgiveness and an eternity of having to worship God.

 Beezelbub and Satan then put into action a plan they had ready. More than just making the best of what they have in Hell, they heard a rumor that God was creating some new creatures “man” to go live on a new thing he created “earth.” What they want to do is go and destroy man or tempt him or ruin this new creation in any way possible. After a little bit of pomp and show—Satan volunteers to go find earth and do a recon mission of the inhabitants.

 I find it ironic how all these fallen Angels can follow and worship Satan so much when the whole reason they are in Hell is because they didn’t want to follow God. In a way (in a perverted and strange way) Satan won—he is the leader now. Sure, Hell might be awful and it is probably safe to say that the worst case in Heaven is much better than the best case in Hell, but nonetheless, he is worshipped and he is so lost in his vanity that he refuses to change. From a psychological perspective he is better off almost. How bad can Heaven be if rather than regret and want forgiveness, Satan just wants revenge?

 The rest of this book is Satan flying off to find earth. He gets cut off at the gates of Hell by his (forgotten) daughter (which sprang from his head) and his son (from his daughter) and his nephews (some dogs which are the offspring of his daugher and grandson—ya—his grandson raped his daughter- his mother—ya—it is that confusing). Here we have sin and death, both of which end up helping Satan along with Chaos and someone else. I can’t remember because I started to get really bored at this point.

 What I am interested in is Satan’s resolve. Satan should know that God is love and forgiving, but Satan rather be in Hell and merit more of God’s wrath, rather than admit defeat, his mistake, and ask for forgiveness.

 But then we wouldn’t have much of a story… As much as I hoped to get through book three today as well, it took me too long to get through book two. So book three tomorrow.

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