Paradise Lost


Book 2

Book 2 Summary

From his lofty new throne made from glittering jewels, Satan addresses his council. He points out that since they are now all equal in suffering, they do not have to worry about being divided by envy as they were in Heaven. He then opens the discussion, presenting the devils with two options, neither of which is for peace. Satan merely asks whether their war against Heaven will continue as an “open war” or a war of “covert guile” (2.41).

Moloch is the first to speak. He is “the strongest and the fiercest Spirit/That fought in Heav’n; now fiercer by despair,” (2.44-45) and eagerly casts his vote for open war. According to Moloch, they are already suffering so badly that they have nothing to lose by continuing the war, and even if they do not achieve victory, they might at least have revenge. Belial, a more eloquent devil, disagrees with Moloch. He argues that god might well punish them even worse if they continue in open war, but that if they do not, there may yet be hope of gaining God’s forgiveness. Secretly, Belial would rather stick to the status quo not for the reasons he gives, but because he is really cowardly and lazy.

Mammon, a greedy and materialistic devil, is the next to speak. He declares that they have nothing to gain from open war, and should turn their energies toward mining the material resources at hand, thus building Hell up into a place as glorious as Heaven. Mammon’s proposal is applauded by the other devils, since few of them are eager to again suffer the wrath of Michael, Heaven’s most fierce warrior. Beelzebub, however, offers a different opinion still. While he agrees with Mammon that they should reject God’s “strictest bondage” (2.321) and remain independent, he believes that they will be better able to do so by engaging in a more covert kind of war. Beelzebub reveals that God has created “new race called Man” (2.348). He suggests that they try to discover the weakness in the new race so favored by God...

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Essays About Paradise Lost