What are some interpretations of heaven and hell's relationship in Milton's Paradise Lost?

Quick answer:

Heaven is a place of truth, order, light, and holiness, while hell is a place of suffering, darkness, and evil. However, complicating the situation is Satan and his minions building a city that seems to mirror heaven. This may seem not very hellish until we understand that the real heaven or hell is internal. No matter how big and garish a palace Satan builds, he can never escape his inner torment: "I ... myself am hell."

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Heaven is a place of true order, goodness, light, and holiness while hell is a place of pure evil. However, complicating this depiction is the fact that Satan builds a city called Pandemonium with a palace and throne for himself that seems very much like heaven. Satan and his minions, by their own will and effort, seem to have accomplished an impressive feat in turning a stinking lake of fire and brimstone into a city that mirrors heaven. How do we reconcile this with these former angels' natures being pure evil and God punishing them for their sins?

What we need to understand is that this outward form is a lie and a fake. The city is a sick parody of heaven. While heaven is a truly beautiful place of celestial light and lovely rainbow hues that permeate the angels, the only light illuminating hell is from hell's flames: it is not a true light. Likewise, the "order" of hell is an inversion of the order of heaven: the most evil being is on top instead of the most holy. Hell might have an outward look of grandeur, but it is a garish, tasteless, soulless imitation of heaven.

The heart of the difference between heaven and hell is not in their outward forms but their inward beings. No matter what kind of grandeur Satan builds, he cannot get away from the fact that his soul is in torment. As Satan understands, "Which [ever] way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell." The outer shell cannot change this inner reality. Because Satan cannot humble himself to say God is right and he is wrong and accept God's way of approaching the universe—with love, mercy, and goodness—he can never free himself from inner torment nor can his followers. This is the real hell.

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