Paradise Lost Essay Samples
Paradise Lost by John Milton is an epic poem about how human beings have lost the paradise made by God. Through the deception of Satan who dexterously transformed itself into different forms, characters such as Mammon, Moloch, Uriel, Gabriel and Michael were depicted.
Mammon, one of the minions of Satan, has managed to refute, persuade, and rationalize the thinking of his comrades. He is a low ranking angel who loves material things, especially riches. He led the construction of the Pandemonium by stealing and mining the minerals and materials that were needed for building it. He said that it was impossible to dethrone God unless everything came into chaos. He added that he neither wanted to be pardoned by God nor did he want to follow all his rules; rather, he wanted hell to resemble as heaven where they can do their wills as an individual. His speech, from 2.229-51 describes this:
Either to disinthrone the King of Heav'n We warr, if warr be best, or to regain Our own right lost: him to unthrone we then May hope, when everlasting Fate shall yeild To fickle Chance, and CHAOS judge the strife: The former vain to hope argues as vain The latter: for what place can be for us Within Heav'ns bound, unless Heav'ns Lord supream We overpower? Suppose he should relent And publish Grace to all, on promise made Of new Subjection; with what eyes could we Stand in his presence humble, and receive Strict Laws impos'd, to celebrate his Throne With warbl'd Hymns, and to his Godhead sing Forc't Halleluiah's; while he Lordly sits Our envied Sovran, and his Altar breathes Ambrosial Odours and Ambrosial Flowers, Our servile offerings. This must be our task In Heav'n, this our delight; how wearisom Eternity so spent in worship paid To whom we hate.
Mammon said that he cannot be the same angel who will follow God’s imposed rules; he would rather make the most out of the pit where they were reigning. He said that war was not the answer. The fallen angels will be accustomed to the hostile environment of hell and they should be used to it now. However, Satan answered Mammon’s speech that no matter how much they try to make hell as sophisticated as heaven, they will still always remain subservient to God. These followers of Satan helped the fallen angels devise a plan on how to ruin the tranquility of heaven. Since they knew that it would be hard to carry out such a plan, the fallen angels thought that it would be better to attack the creation of God on Earth, which consisted of the human beings.
Mammon was selfish because he wanted every material thing he could have his hands on when they built the Pandemonium. He was a master persuader, too, because he persuaded his comrades to make another kingdom that matches heaven where God resides. He persuaded them that whatever happens to them they will always be the fallen angels ousted from heaven. Thus, they would just make their own place in hell. Mammon refuels the fire of hatred in the other devils by telling them that that they were not worthy to be in heaven. He has this spirit of poverty in him because he does not want to acknowledge the abundance of blessings God to shower on humans. Because of being ashamed of God’s blessings, pride develops in him who rejects God’s graces and becomes ashamed of it. After poverty and pride, Mammon becomes greedy because he wanted to have everything without the seeking help from God. Whatever he puts his hands on is his. He wanted to be recognized for the building of the Pandemonium. In this regard, avarice is also evident in the poem when Mammon led other fallen angels to dig the hills where they can find the materials for erecting the Pandemonium (Milton, 1. 678-690). It was stated in the following lines:
Mammon led them on-- Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold, Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed In vision beatific. By him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught, Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew Opened into the hill a spacious wound, And digged out ribs of gold
As opposed to God who is the supreme power everybody follows, all Mammon’s characteristics are evidence and products of humans’ first disobedience to Him. He was still a very generous person when he let Adam and Eve be guided by one of the angels.
Mammon in the poem means ‘greed,’ but for all intent and purposes, he was asking the devils to be contented with what they had. In comparison to human beings, Mammon poses pride, which is one of the seven deadly sins that God has forbidden. He wanted to be self-sufficient and wanted to have what God has. Human beings accept the fact that they depend on God’s graces and that they should be thankful. However, Mammon despises God’s way of providing and thinks he can live without him. He reiterated in the following lines “our own good for ourselves, and from our own live to ourselves” (Milton, 2. 252). This shows that Mammon really counsels greed among his comrades by stressing that they don’t need God to live.
Mammon also illustrated one of the things that human beings are fond of practicing: being materialistic. Making a rival of what heaven has, which God has provided, Mammon dreamed of becoming equal to their supposed kingdom in hell. He wanted to exhaust everything they have now in hell so that they can make their own kingdom (Milton, 2. 254- 266).
Another deadly sin demonstrated by Mammon was pride, which he explicitly stated in his speech -- that he will not submit to God and sing forced hallelujahs for him while he sits on his throne because he hates God so much (Milton, 2.242-245). He does not recognize the power of God over them because they have discovered that they can revolt against him.
Needless to say, Mammon, who was related to money, earthly possessions, greed, and pride, is the embodiment of the vices human beings have. Milton used Mammon to reflect that human beings are beyond ungrateful for God’s graces as they keep asking for more. In Mammon’s speech, it was apparent that the strong feeling of rejection towards God’s supremacy means repelling his love for his creations. The descriptions given of Mammon in the context of the book means that pride causes people to compare themselves with others. This was evident in the way that Mammon wanted to compete with God’s kingdom in heaven. Mammon’s hunger for riches is also a foreshadowing of Adam’s hunger for knowledge and wisdom, which he was not supposed to have. This creates confusion on how to draw the line between the wisdom that God wants his creation to gain and understand and the wisdom that only God should have. One of the best examples of this hunger for knowledge was when Satan tricked Eve that she would know the secrets of the paradise if she eats the fruit of knowledge. The desire to be equal to the knowledge that God possessed has destroyed the paradise that Eve and Adam live in.
The significance of this minor character, based on the characterization revealed by the lines of the book, lay in the way that he was used by the author to convey humans’ vices as a result of their suffering on Earth. It also served to remind human beings that they can never be at par with God. The character of Mammon reminds everyone that these vices cause humankind to be repulsive and insensitive of the things that God provides for us.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Margaret Kean. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.