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In lines 210–220 of Paradise Lost, Milton offers a solemn assurance that despite all...

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vipergrooms | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:05 AM via web

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In lines 210–220 of Paradise Lost, Milton offers a solemn assurance that despite all Satan’s power and grandeur, the devil is still subject to God’s purposes. How do these lines contribute a level of dramatic irony to Satan’s ringing assertion of freedom in his final speech (lines 242–270)? 

Here is the story, http://www.nexuslearning.net/books/Elements_of_Lit_Course6/Renaissance/collection%205/John%20Milton.htm 

Thanks in advance :-)

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:46 PM (Answer #1)

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In lines 210-220 of Book I, Milton suggests that despite Satan's claims of independence and freedom (and in seeking "Evil to others"), Satan sees how his "malice" actually brings (or will eventually bring) forth "Infinite goodness, grace and mercy" to mankind. 

The irony is that the more Satan speaks of his liberation from God, the more he seems to damn himself. Although Satan continues to espouse the virtues of freedom, he continually must reiterate that he is only "free" in Hell, whereas in Heaven he must serve God. From these comments, Satan's rationalizations, come one of his most famous lines in the play: 

Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n. (Book I, 263.) 

Satan rationalizes that he can make his Hell like Heaven and in Hell, at least he is free from being God's subordinate. But the fact is that God designed the entire structure of Heaven and Hell. And if God is all-knowing, Satan is fooling himself if he thinks he can use God's own structure of Heaven and Hell in his (Satan's) own favor. The implication is that to rebel against something inherently good, is to commit to something inherently bad. 

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