What is Satan's goal in the "prelude" to the debate over war or no war in Book 2 of Paradise Lost?  Book 2 line 12-42  

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even though it might seem strange to readers, Satan's goal in the prelude to the debate is actually to provide positive encouragement to his "minions."  While admittedly, it seems that the fallen are in dire straits, Satan claims that he and his followers will

". . .now return / To claim [their] just inheritance of / old, Surer to prosper then prosperity / Could have assur'd us . . ." (Lines 37-40).

In order to convince those who fell with him that they will be able to claim that inheritance (rule over Heaven), Satan begins the prelude by arguing that they have an advantage over those who remain in Heaven.  He reminds them that they are filled with "immortal vigor," and that the "good" who remained in Heaven have no motivation to revolt and will presumably become complacent because they have nothing to envy or worry about (lines 3-32).  In contrast, Satan and his followers have strong motivation to get out of their imprisonment and to reclaim that which they vow not to lose again.  Essentially, Satan's prelude is a motivational speech for the underdog, full of "we-have-nothing-to-lose" rhetoric.

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Paradise Lost

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