Hell and Pandemonium in Paradise Lost

Milton offers a vivid description of Hell and the creation of Satan’s Palace in the Book I. Hell appears as a singed furnace while the Hellish fire does not illuminate like the ordinary fires but instead spreads further darkness and hence, only “darkness [is] visible” (I.63) , indicating the doomed fate of its inhabitants who have forsaken the light of goodness and of Heaven. It deprives its inhabitants of vision and instils only despair. Hell is a place where any positive feeling of hope or rest does not exist. Milton describes Hell as never-ending as “ever- burning sulphur unconsumed” (I.69) to depict the eternal nature of the punishment of its inhabitants. There is no sense of calm even in the climate with ongoing fiery floods or tempests. Milton compares Hell to a perpetual volcano. There is no sense of stability as the dry land is composed of solid fire and the lake is composed of liquid fire, making it difficult for the angels to walk. Hell isn’t a formless or shapeless landmass; it contains lakes and hills and precious metals using which the capital of Hell – Pandemonium is built.

The Latin meaning of the word Pandemonium is ‘belonging to demons/ evil spirits’ while the contemporary usage identifies it as a situation of wild uproar and confusion. Indeed, Hell is a place of confusion where the flames emit darkness instead of light and hope is born out of sheer despair. It is the capital of Hell that is built to house all the devils. The Pandemonium marks the moral degeneration into materialistic baseness of the devils from the army of Satan to the buzzing bees. The pride and valour of the military transformed into the very mundane.Pandemonium is the name coined by Milton for the capital of Hell. It is built by the fallen angels, lead by Mammon, the angel most invested in materialistic pursuits as well as Mulciber, who Milton identifies as the Greco-Roman god of forgery Hephaestus/ Vulcan. The angels are able to create a greater marvel than the Egyptian pyramids in just an hour, its luxury and splendour is unmatched even by Babylon. Milton describes its creation in terms of visual music – rising like the notes of a musical organ. However, Pandemonium represents Milton’s attitude towards greed and wealth acquisition. He describes the process of building the monument in the crudest of words as “a second multitude/With wondrous Art found out the massieOre,/ Severing each kind, and scum’d the Bullion dross” (I.71-73). The Pandemonium serves as a space that functions as a parliament in a faux-democracy of the fallen angels which parodies the religious and political climate of Milton’s time. As a Protestant, Milton was dissatisfied with the corruption and greed of the Catholic Church as well as the political leaders whom he parodies.This monument is a mere façade of grandeur built using worldly materials as a replica of Heaven’s splendours but while it attempts to match the outward glory.

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