In the passage below (Book 2, Lines 12-42), how does Satan use rhetorical devices to persuade his audience to agree with his goals?"Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!-- For, since no deep...

In the passage below (Book 2, Lines 12-42), how does Satan use rhetorical devices to persuade his audience to agree with his goals?

"Powers and Dominions, Deities of Heaven!--

For, since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigour, though oppressed and fallen,
I give not Heaven for lost: from this descent
Celestial Virtues rising will appear
More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
And trust themselves to fear no second fate!--
Me though just right, and the fixed laws of Heaven,
Did first create your leader--next, free choice
With what besides in 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. The happier state
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of endless pain? Where there is, then, no good
For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
From faction: for none sure will claim in Hell
Precedence; none whose portion is so small
Of present pain that with ambitious mind
Will covet more! With this advantage, then,
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in Heaven, we now return
To claim our just inheritance of old,
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could have assured us; and by what best way,
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate. Who can advise may speak."

Expert Answers
rbeverett eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this passage, Satan asks a rhetorical question to his minions. In his question, Satan simply asks his followers if any of them would be jealous of his position as leader or ruler of Hell. In other words, Satan asks who would want his job and the risks associated with it such as God’s eternal wrath. The answer is simple: no one.

This dialogue also serves to highlight what Satan views as his ‘advantage’ over the forces of good. His rhetorical question highlights the fact that Satan does not believe he has to fear the possibility of being overthrown as ruler in Hell. He also discusses the fact that Satan’s forces seemingly have nothing to lose in their fight against Heaven. Thus, the entire speech becomes a wonderful illustration of Satan’s pride, which, ultimately, is his defining characteristic.

Satan’s pride can certainly be seen in the fact that even after being cast out of Heaven, Satan continues to plot and scheme against what he sees as “the tyranny of Heaven.” Describing his position in Hell as the “highest place” and himself as a “bulwark” standing between his followers and God’s wrath, Satan clearly indicates his inflated feelings of self importance.