Sunday, October 5, 2008

Seven Deadly Sins

Well, I must say that I am writing blogs that are for past books we have read because I'm pretty far behind in these blogs. Basically, all of my ideas were put on a sticky post it note to keep in the back of my head, so here I go, writing and expanding upon ideas we've somewhat covered already in class.
During a class discussion about Book II a few weeks ago, I began seeing the fallen angels representing the seven deadly sins; or rather the four/five deadly sins. I started looking into this idea and becoming rather intrigued as to what Milton was trying to get across by personifying these demons as seven deadly sins that are often associated with humanity. In my first paper, I touch on this topic, but not nearly as much as I want to. So I've decided to run with this topic and post a (wah lah) blog about it.
First off, let me start with a list of the seven deadly sins:
What is fascinating about these seven deadly sins is that in small amounts, these characteristics are not considered a "bad" thing necessarily. However, once one reaches the extremes of maintaining these traits, they become classified as sinful.
The first hint that Milton provides about the personification of sins is when the narrator describes Belial, one of the demons, as a "sloth" (II, 227). It becomes clear that the narrator is actually insulting Belial, not complementing him. As stated above, sloth is known as one of the Cardinal Sins. The reader can only infer that the narrator calls Belial a sloth because of what Belial wants to do with Hell: he prefers not to attack God, while also asking for forgiveness to get back into Heaven and allowing his punishment to be enduring in a Hell that he doesn't think is half bad. Because it seems that Belial would rather remain in his Hell than fight against God or claim revenge, he is indeed called a sloth. What is particularly interesting is that though Milton seems to make other characters represent sins, he does not directly state it about any other character except Belial. While no one will ever really know why this is the case, Belial is unfortunately the butt of the joke when it comes to his plan.
Although at first this comment regarding Belial as a sloth may go unnoticed, the reader can look back and see that the traits and plans of other fellow demons seem very much related to other sins. The first character to actually address Pandemonium is Moloch. According to Milton, Moloch was once a great warrior for Heaven, where he greatly enjoyed his rank and place in Heaven. However invincible Moloch believed he was, he clearly suffered a blow to his ego when he was banished to Hell as punishment from God. In his revenge plan, Moloch decides that fighting a raging war against God will be his way of claiming revenge and taking out his anger on God. He is clearly livid with God for punishing him. This is seen when he speaks to the council and says, "Let us rather choose/Armed with hell flames and fury all at once/O'er Heav'n's high tow'rs to force resistless way,/Turning our tortures into horrid arms/Against the Torturer" (II, 60). It is clear that Moloch is bent on getting revenge on a God that he views as a tyrant through the notion of waging a violent war. His pure hatred for God can be easily seen in the diction of his speeches regarding war. Is it possible that Moloch represents the sin of Wrath? For me, the answer is yes, it is quite possible, and probably even intended that way.
Mammon also represents a sin. He was described as "always admiring more/The riches of Heav'ns pavement, trodden gold" (I, 681-682). This quote, as well as the knowledge that Mammon wants to build a wealthy kingdom out of Hell very similar to Heaven shows that Mammon may represent Greed. In his desire to build a kingdom out of Hell, the reader learns that the sins these demons personify have an impact on what they believe their future actions should be. While Mammon intends to gain riches and unlimited wealth, Belial, the sloth, decides to take no action, and Moloch, Wrath, decides to claim revenge on God through war and violence. While these three demons represent sins, I also believe that Satan himself represents sin. Satan believes to have enough power to corrupt Man and get revenge on God. Also, as we have seen in Book 5, Satan claims he is "self-begot, self raised," which of course, shows Satan's thoughts on God and helps portray his pride. When Satan says this, it becomes clear to the reader that Satan truly believes what he is saying and refuses to believe anyone else in his twisted mindset. Someone who is extremely proud will also have their one way of viewing something, and clearly, to claim God did not create everything and that Satan is self raised shows just how proud Satan can be.
Though I am unsure of who represents lust, gluttony, and envy as an individual, I feel that these particular demons are personified as one of the seven deadly sins, and may even have traits of all the sins combined. I hope to discuss this further as we continue reading the book, because I definitely think this is an interesting idea.

Feel free to comment.


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