Satan's Pity Essay

817 words - 4 pages

“O Hell!” Satan’s opening exclamation of frustration immediately alerts readers to Satan’s state of mind. As Satan gazes on Adam and Eve, he is struck by their blissful state, which sends him into a spiral of confusion as he slightly reconsiders his plan to destroy them. To himself, Satan addresses the pair; he begins regretful and with pity for Adam and Eve. He later shifts in tone to vengeful, envious, and angry. Further exemplifying Satan’s contrasting attitudes, Milton uses antonymous words of emotion throughout the passage. By the end of passage, Milton solidifies Satan’s hardening of heart and ends the struggle that has been festering inside Satan since his first act of rebellion against God. Milton successfully uses both the shift in tone and the emotional diction to reveal Satan’s stormy internal conflict.
Throughout the passage, Milton inserts beautifully emotional words that describe Satan’s contrasting feelings: grief and joy, woe and bliss, loathing and delight. The positive feelings that Satan expresses, though describing Adam and Eve’s state, reflect the good nature in Satan. That nature is visibly small, as Satan describes himself as joyful or blissful. He merely observes this happiness in Adam and Eve; he even speaks the words with hints of regret. The negative words have a much more powerful effect: Satan uses these words to describe his own feelings and his own domain, Hell. The feelings of grief, woe, and loathing are his, not Adam and Eve’s, and thus reveal his stronger relation to negativity. This relation in turn reveals the strength of his evil nature, which would eventually conquer his good nature. The total absence of positive words by the end of the passage indicates the final triumph of evil in Satan.
In addition to the conflicting diction of Satan’s speech, Milton further illustrates Satan’s anguish with two contrasting parts of his soliloquy. First Milton describes Satan’s regret for his rebellion against God and his awe for Adam and Eve. He views Adam and Eve as innocent and beautiful: “Creatures of other mould… Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue/ With wonder, and could love…” As Satan steps closer to executing his plot against Adam and Eve, he begins to foreshadow Adam and Eve’s fate. He hints, “Your change approaches, when all these delights will vanish and deliver ye to woe.”...

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