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  • 10 months ago
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Give after Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ a description of Hell

 

Give after Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ a description of Hell


Ans. John Milton’s world famous epic ‘Paradise Lost’ gives us a brief but vivid picture of Hell. In the opening lines just after the prologue, Milton goes on to describe Hell, the abode of the fallen angels. As we read the poem, we are instantly to visualise a region which is sinister, barren and wild. Milton’s pedantic description of Hell in ‘Paradise Lost’ creates an impression of its vastness and nature.

 

According to Milton’s cosmology, Hell lies equally distant from Heaven to Earth’s southern pole. It is a dismal place, waste and wild, a horrible dungeon filled with flames which shed no light but only makes darkness visible. It is the region of horrors, the place of never-ending torture as there is no release from this punishment for the fallen angels.

Satan and his followers lie unconsciously in that region which is far away from God and the light of Heaven as thrice the distance from the centre of the earth to the most distant pole of the Universe. The contrast between Hell and the Heaven which Satan and his followers have lost is suggestively conveyed to us by the following lines:

“O how unlike the place from whence they fell! There the companions of hid fall, o’erwhelmed

With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,”

Milton gives us contrasting pictures of Heaven and Hell through Satan’s speech to the fallen angels in the following lines:

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,

Said then the lost archangel, this the seat

That we must change for Heaven? this mournful gloom

For that celestial light? Be it so, since he

Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid”

Satan utters the above words  with a deep regret and with a sense of nostalgia. He views the region, the soil and the climate of Hell and finds that if they have to live here, they have undergone a tremendous reversal of fortune. But Satan and his followers have no option in the matter. They are eternally damned and ordained to live in hell. So, Satan bids farewell to the joyful realms of Heaven and commands the horrors of Hell to welcome and assure his kingdom that his mind is steadfast.

The evocative power of the poet increases by the lack of visual clarity in giving account of Hell. At once, we realize that Hell is a state of mind as well as a place as it is evident from Satan’s speech in the following lines:

“A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

However, in ‘Paradise Lost’, we find two distinct physical Hells in addition to the moral or spiritual Hell. The first Hell is a place of darkness which the lurid flickering light of fire serves only to make more dark. Geologically, it is a volcanic region fed with ever-burning sulphur unconsumed. It is likely that Milton compares his Hell with the burning Aetna, the great volcano in the centre of Sicily. The idea of the second Hell comes in our mind at the end of Book-I with the building of the Pandemonium.

 

We can conclude by stating that through the speeches of Satan, John Milton gives us an idea of Hell which is a state of mind as well as a place by his accurate fitting of the mind to the place. The mind is the source of happiness or misery as the mind is capable of turning Hell into Heaven and of making Heaven of Hell. So, Milton’s Hell is not bound by time and place. It exists in the mind itself as Satan realizes and as he exposes his wicked designs to pollute mankind.

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