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  • Satans Rhetoric A Study Of Renaissance Demonology
  • Satans Rhetoric A Study Of Renaissance Demonology



Paradise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton retelling the Biblical story of Adam and Eve’s first sin. Milton first recounts the rebellion of Satan, who would afterward act as tempter in the events that transpired in the Garden of Eden. Readers have interpreted the story of Satan’s rebellion in two drastically different ways, each corresponding to one of the two contrary themes I introduced in my previous article titled God and Man: Two Western Themes . In this article, I will provide a historical survey of literary criticism to Paradise Lost , showing how interpretations of the poem have fluctuated between the religious and the humanistic themes.

Satan’s rebellion begins when God calls an assembly of all the angels in Heaven in order to announce that he has appointed his Son to reign over them: “To Him shall bow / All knees in Heav’n” (V.607-608). Satan believes that he and the Son are equal in rank, and he concludes that God in this exaltation of the Son is unjust. Satan refuses to surrender his personal freedom or to submit to what he regards as the illegitimate reign of the Son, and he appeals to the other angels to do the same:

Will ye submit your necks and choose to bend / The supple knee? Ye will not […] if ye know yourselves / Natives and sons of Heav’n possessed before / By none. (V.787-791)



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