I need to analyze this quote to illustrate a key image,symbol, or theme in Paradise Lost.  In Book 1: "Here for his envy,will not drive us hence:/  Here we may reign secure,and in my choice/To...

I need to analyze this quote to illustrate a key image,symbol, or theme in Paradise Lost.

 

In Book 1: "Here for his envy,will not drive us hence:/  Here we may reign secure,and in my choice/To reign is secure, and in my choice/ To reignis worth ambition though in Hell:/ Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.



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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This quote from Book 1 of Paradise Lost clearly states the thematic focus of Satan's character.  Satan and his band of rebel angel failed in the battle with God and have been cast down to the depths of Hell.  It is a torturous place of darkness and fire and the all of the fallen angels are literally down on the lake of fire almost incapable of movement, but Satan realizes that he has to re-group these angels and encourage them to make this tragedy into a kind of triumph for them.  Satan rises above the lake and makes the announcement that you have quoted above.  He makes the bold claim that they challenged God in the first place because THEY wanted to reign in heaven.  But since they didn't succeed there, they have two choices:  languish in the fire, or rise up and reign over hell in order to take this punishment and turn it into a sense of triumph.  It is a great spin on a bad situation, basically saying, it is better to be in charge of this terrible place than to continue to be the underlings of God in heaven.  After he gives this speech, the fallen angels rise up and join him in seeing their world from this point of view.  Once he gets everyone on his side, he starts to put in motion his plan to bring down the creation of God, man.  He plans to "punish" God by being the powerful force of evil and temptation in the world.  He intends to draw humanity to him and his band of fallen angels.  He plots to enter the Garden of Eden as a snake; tempt Adam and Eve to commit sin, and then have them as part of his band of followers.  The plan works to a certain degree, and Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden, but God offers the potential for forgiveness and grace, so Satan didn't win in quite the way he intended.  This quote clearly establishes the theme of power and leadership, as well as the theme of knowledge and perception-- that perspective can affect ones understanding of a situation.

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