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Milton's Conception of Hell in 'Paradise Lost'

  • Date Submitted: 09/08/2011 09:56 PM
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Milton’s conception of Hell in ‘Paradise Lost’

Of all the narrative passages in Paradise Lost, Book-I , John Milton’s description of Hell stands out unique by virtue of its graphics pictorial quality and its evocation of a sense of gloomy terror. Milton presents Hell as a place designed for the eternal punishment of the fallen angels. Hell is a place for removed from the celestial seat of bliss. It is situated in the nethermost depth of abyss, and it takes nine days and nights to fall into this dreadful pit from heaven. Hell is an assemblage of all the arbitration human emotions – pains, despair, envy, restlessness, heartlessness, heartburn etc. It is the ‘infernal world’ of horrors, the place of never-ending torture. Milton’s conception of hell is revealed in different ways, sometimes by his direct description and sometimes by Satan’s speeches to his fellow-criminals.

Hell, a fiery lake: Milton gives a fairly detailed description of Hell in the opening scene of ‘Paradise Lost, Book-1’.Satan and the other rebel angels were thrown from the eternal sky to bottomless perdition where they were bound by adamantine chains and penal fire. Here they are seen lying in a semi-conscious state, on the fiery lake of Hell for nine days. Satan is the first to recover from this stupor. While Satan surveys Hell as far as he can see and observe, he finds it a vast, gloomy and dreary region. It is like a huge underground prison house terrible to behold.
Casting his sorrowful eyes around the Hell, he sees that it is horrible dungeon (prison) surrounded by fire on all sides, like one great furnace (oven). Yet from the burning flames comes no light. The flames give out just as much light as is needed to make the “darkness visible”. There is a famous medieval notion that the flames of Hell give no light, because the damned or the sinners are deprived from the sight of God, who is the form of light. It is a place where fire exists without light and darkness is almost tangible and...


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