General Survey of English Literature 1 – Haber
What's a girl to do to when she's slept with her father, and now she wants him to recognize their
son? Today, the girl could strut onto the stage of
and confront her father with the
(in)famous mediator. Unfortunately for Sin, there was no Jerry Springer in the Hell of John Milton's
. When Satan approached the gate of Hell and challenged Death to let him pass, Sin
needed to convince him of her identity and not to attack his son, Death, all alone. Further, though Satan
didn't remember her, and she was half-serpent, half-woman, she had to make him remember she was
both his daughter and his former lover. That aside, what does an author do when he has just shown his
readers a less-than-horrid vision of Hell and Satan, and now wants them to see how evil both truly are?
He employs all of his powers of comparison, specific language, and metaphor. Within Sin's account of
her creation, her pregnancy, and her current plight, Milton interweaves his case for the true terror of
Hell. He does this partly through comparisons between the Hellish couple and the first humans, Adam
and Eve. He also illustrates Hell by building second and sometimes even third meanings into Sin's
statements using careful language.
Finally, he uses metaphor to incorporate messages about the
dangers of sin. Simultaneously, with one speech, Sin succeeds in convincing Satan that she speaks the
truth, while Milton shows the alert reader that though Satan seems heroic and charismatic, everything is
twisted by evil in Hell.
Satan and Sin parallel Adam and Eve, but instead of being copies of the famed parents of
humankind, Satan and Sin are a perversion of Adam and Eve. The most obvious signal that Satan and
Sin are meant to parallel Adam and Eve comes from the specific detail that Sin springs from the left
side of Satan's head, and Eve also sprung from Adam's left side. Of course, there are significant