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 ...view middle of the document...
It is a place where fire exists without light and darkness is almost tangible and this darkness itself reveals the sight of misery. This scene of barren desolation is thus described by Milton –
“A Dungeon horrible on all rides round,
Serves only to discover sights of woe ….”
Here is sinister wilderness, ‘a dismal situation waste and wild’.
Hell is a lake of ever burning sulfur, a flood of fire, which constantly overwhelms and engulfs the victims imprisoned in this dreadful gloom. Such a place, encapsulated by utter darkness has been designed by God for the fallen angels as a mark of punishment for their foul revolt. The ‘floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire’ make it most torrid clime. It is all wrapped up in smoke and foul smell. Like a volcano it blasts vapor and blown off rocks. Here is the burnt surface at the bottom. The lakes of ever burning fire are, thus, one part of the Hell only. On another half of this terrible dungeon lays an open space, a vast tract of solid ground of ‘burning marl’.
Never-ending torture: Hell is a region of sorrow and misery, helplessness and eternal torment. Peace, rest, hope and calm, that which make life enjoyable and worth living, one completely absent in Hell. There are only never ending torture. This is a place of perfect perdition where to exist is to experience the worst death in a deathless world. A look at Hell reveals:
“Regions of sorrow, doleful shades where peace
And rest can never dwelt, hopes never comes
That comes to all, but fortune without end”.
The hopelessness of Hell: Another Significant feature to note is the hopelessness of Hell. Man can partly bear his pains and sufferings. Because he has an optimistic view that it will end sometime. But the complete hopelessness or frustration creates an inner disintegration. The fallen angels, who have brought Hell upon themselves, have no least hope, to get rid of from this ever damnation. So, they have to face it for eternity.
Hell, a Universe of death: The devils, indeed, find the whole Hell to be a universe of death. It is a place of living death, because God is the source of life. As these angels have rejected God, so they must experience a living death. God has created Hell as a place of evil, a place where evil is only good. Here all the living beings die, and all the dead beings live.
Hell, a part of the realm of Chaos: From Satan’s talk we learnt that Hell is originally a part of Chaos. Essentially, Chaos is a region of disorder, uncertainty...