The Fallen Angels In John Milton's Paradise Lost

2210 words - 9 pages

The Fallen Angels in Paradise Lost

    The fallen angels are Satan's minions and the voices by which

Milton may express a variety of opinions and views, showing the diversity

and intricacies of Hell, and the immorality of their actions and proposals.

Whilst we are often impressed by the skill with which the individual

leaders perform their tasks and speeches, we are never left in any doubt as

to the truth of G-d, and the futility of their debates.  By examining the

angels as a group, Milton is able to leave the infernal dungeon, to take a

flight throughout history, giving his own point of view.  It is thus that

Books I and II of "Paradise Lost" are so unique, as the alternative, and

less-frequently explored world of the devils, is probed in such a

fascinating manner.


      Milton uses the story of the fallen angels to open out on numerous

eras, civilisations, myths and stories, allowing him to convey his own

perception of the world's history, as the reader is guided through various

points in time.  Before we are introduced to the individuals, Milton

depicts an enormous army of different species, each of changeable size and

form.  The image of a "pitchy cloud / Of locusts" to describe them as they

rise from the burning lake is especially apt, given the destructive nature

of, and biblical references to these insects.  Milton states that they lost

their original names after the Fall ("Got them new names, till wand'ring

o'er the earth") and that they became known to man as the heathen idols of

the Old Testament and the pagan deities of Egypt and Greece.  A rich

portrait of mythological and biblical history is painted, through the

equation of the angels with the false gods and characters who featured in

these past times.  What is made clear throughout, is the fact that these

civilisations are tainted by their neglect of the true G-d, in favour of

these idols, which leads to their resultant downfall.  First, we meet the

icons to which Solomon sinfully built temples, and failed in his duty to

the Lord.  Moloch, the sun god, is the embodiment of wrath, demanding

bloodthirsty human sacrifice from the Ammonite children; Chemos, god of the

Moabites, and the Baalim, the Palestinian gods.  The history behind these

gods is noted carefully by Milton, and their mention does have significant

meaning - when destroyed by Josiah, Solomon's temple to Moloch was known as

either Tophet or Gehenna: other names for Hell.  The angels, who "can

either sex assume" may also take up the form of goddesses, whether the moon

goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte; the universal nature of these counterfeit

gods demonstrates the far-reaching effects of Satan's evil; that every time

and place has been touched by this false reverence.  We move geographical

location, as Milton cites the sun god of...

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