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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 230-417. THE ARRIVAL OF SIN AND DEATH

We last saw Satan's daughter and son/grandson in Book II, when Satan left Hell. He hasn't returned since, though he has been in many other parts of the universe. Sin and Death think that no news is good news. Since he's been so long away, he must have been successful, and there will be prey for both of them.

Remember that Sin and Death are allegorical figures. When Sin says that she feels new strength within her, we understand that Sin is gaining from man's fall. She suggests building a path from Hell to the World, an allegorical way of implying that there'll be a lot of traffic both ways pretty soon.

Death is all for it. He can already smell his prey. They set off like two vultures who arrive on a battlefield the day before the fight-they know what's coming.



When they get out into Chaos, they collect all the solid material flying and floating around there and drive it back toward the mouth of Hell, like (another epic simile) winds from the North Pole driving icebergs to stop up the Northeast passage. Sin and Death make this material into a landing place anchored deep in the roots of Hell. Building from this "beach," they make a bridge right across Chaos, ending at the point on top of the world where Satan first looked down to the earth. (Recall Book III; this is the point where you can look up into Heaven, down into the World, and out into Chaos. The bridge is on the left of the universe in the diagram.)

Sin and Death are poised at that spot, their road made behind them, when Satan arrives. He had hidden himself when the Son came down to judge him and Adam and Eve. He doesn't seem upset by the prophecy that mankind "will bruise his heel." He is too pleased with his success to worry much about what he thinks will be a punishment that lies far in the future.

Compare Satan's greeting of Sin here with their first meeting in Book II. Satan has become so deeply tainted by his destructive revenge that he greets the loathsome figure with joy. When he first saw her, he recoiled in shame from his connection with her.

Sin hails her father as victor. "Thine now is all the world." You're fully avenged for the defeat in Heaven, and God will have to divide his realm with you. It seems like a reasonable conclusion-one you might have reached yourself-yet this is only Book X; Books XI and XII will change things for Satan. But now he is triumphant as he delegates his reign on earth to Sin and Death. They go straight down through the spheres to earth, while Satan takes the high road across Chaos to Hell.

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