Analyze and discuss lines 120-160 of Book 1 (given in the image) of Paradise Lost by John Milton.

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Any analysis of lines 120- 160 in Book I Paradise Lost has to center on the basic discussion between Satan and Beelzebub.  I think that one of the most significant aspects of this in lines 120- 160 is the extent of their relationship.  It is evident that both of them form the structure of leader and one who would serve them.  It is almost akin to how Regina George, the "queen bee" in Mean Girls is followed by Gretchen Wieners, her second in command.  Milton displays such a relationship in the manner of speech between both.  Line 120 starts the defiant stance that Satan will demonstrate both throughout the excerpt and in the epic poem:

We may with more successful hope resolve [ 120 ]
To wage by force or guile eternal Warr
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav'n.

The idea of "eternal Warr" reflects a distinct possibility of loss and defeat. However, Satan's confidence is his own notion of self help to defer this reality. In speaking to his lieutenant about the need to challenge he who represents "the Tyranny of Heav'n," a distinct part of the relationship between both figures is revealed.

This relationship is enhanced in Beelzebub's response.  Beelzebub demonstrates his role as "Compeer" in suggesting that there might be an alternate narrative to be embraced.  He suggests this in specific lines and images, such as "Too well I see and rue the dire event,/ That with sad overthrow and foul defeat" and "But what if he our Conquerour, (whom I now/
Of force believe Almighty, since no less/ Then such could hav orepow'rd such force as ours)."  These help to bring out the full extent of the relationship between both angels.  This becomes one of the most important realities when analyzing lines 120- 160 in Book I.  Beelzebub has less confidence, and is less demonstrative about his service of the end goal towards which Satan has no reticence.  Satan is shown as the "King Bee" while Beelzebub is more of the serving second in command.

Milton makes clear that this relationship is a doomed one in how Satan responds to the potential alternative that Beelzebub proposes.  Satan is committed in what he believes and in his mission against the almighty. Beelzebub does not break from him. The chains that bind both of them to the inferno outside of Heaven also tethers them to a life where there will be no spiritual redemption.  It is Milton's insight to suggest that the associations we form and the connections we have with other people can play critical role in our moral ascendance or degradation.  Through the depiction of the relationship between both angles in lines 120- 160 in Book I, Milton suggests that hell might just be "other people."  This becomes one of the critical points of analysis in this section of the work.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,974 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question