New Depictions of Familiar Biblical Ideas

When I was a kid I went to Sunday School but never paid attention. For this reason, I’m not quite sure how close some representations in Paradise Lost are to ones in the Bible. Either way, I’m finding lots of interesting info about religious imagery that I hadn’t heard of before.

“the Towrs of Heav’n are fill’d/With Armed watch, that render all access /Impregnable; ”

I’m sure my previous idea of Heaven as a quiet and peaceful little town sitting on top of clouds comes more from pop-culture than from Bible study, but this depiction of Heaven as some military fortress still stunned me. Who are the towers keeping out?

The personification of Death also startled me. It is an amusing thought that amongst the devils, burning lakes, enveloping darkness, and barking hounds in Hell there is also the “execrable” (also formless?) shape of Death that speaks and threatens Satan directly. Again, like with most of Milton’s work, I’m finding that the settings in Paradise Lost are a bit vague and undefined, although not in a bad way. Characters, objects, and landmarks just seem to float around in empty space.

The last depiction I want to bring attention to, which is also the most obvious and memorable, is that of the Devils. Although I knew a little bit about the Devil as a fallen angel, I did not expect to find so much humanity in the descriptions of him and his counsel. The monologue on consciousness from Belial is honestly a little bit moving…

“Though full of pain, this intellectual being,Those thoughts that wander through Eternity, To perish rather, swallowd up and lost In the wide womb of uncreated night, Devoid of sense and motion…

Who would’ve thought a friend of Satan would make such a beautiful argument for staying alive?!




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  1. I was also under the same impression that heaven was this quiet and nice place that one would like to go to, but I would have to agree with you that I caught on to that as well with the towers. That doesn’t quite seem like the same thing that the Bible and other religious figures make it up to be.

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