Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Beauty and Hatred: Satan's Relationship with Eve and Nature
I saw this instability several times in this book, especially when he says that he can not enjoy the simple pleasures of nature, saying, "all good to me becomes / Bane; and in Heav'n much worse would be my state." Satan seems to constantly have these moments when he sees the grand beauty and goodness of the earth and nature and instead of it pleasing him, he almost despises it. He acknowledges the goodness of the beautiful nature and is in awe of it, but he hates it. It's this interesting dynamic going on that has him in this paradoxical state.
The same thing happens on a more powerful level when he comes across Eve. When Satan first sees her, he is astonished at her beauty and grace to the point that his convictions are shaken for a moment. It says, "her graceful innocence, her every air / of gesture or least action overawed / his malice." But then he recalls with bitterness that this pleasure is not his and "fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts / of mischief, gratulating, thus excites." Satan's pride and hatred comes back, stabilizing his conviction to destroy mankind, including Eve. What's interesting is how it's Eve's beauty that shakes Satan up so much into a moment of uncertainty. This tension of the hatred of Satan and the terrifying beauty of Eve is something I'll have to look at more.