In Book 9, he returns to paradise as a mist at night and transforms into the sleeping serpent. Milton reflects on the argument between Adam and Eve in the novel. Unlike God’s language in the previous novels, which is distinguished by simplicity, plainness, and directness, Satan’s tone in Book 9 is marked by rhetoric, similes, and linguistic tricks. Milton employs these traits to portray Satan as not only a brilliant orator but also a convincing liar.
In his conversation with Eve, Satan primarily communicates by epic similes. An epic simile is used in the book to either diminish or exalt different problems and characters. Milton focuses on the sense of visual in imagery and the intellectual impact of similes. For instance, the way satan’s impure tricks or impure designs on Eve. In line 578, describes his first glance at the “goodly tree far distant to hold.” While tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, the serpent compares the forbidden fruit smell to that to that of a mother’s milk. By doing this, Satan offers Eve an image of a dear mother and creates the desire to enjoy the sweet milk from the mother’s breast (Dawn 4). Satan appears to be worshipping the Tree of Knowledge and convincingly tells Eve that she will acquire the knowledge of God once he eats the fruit. Satan uses persuasive language to presenting the tree as the best alternative to Eve’s faith in God.
Satan’s monologs in book 9 suppress contesting voices and perspective and appear to be directed inward. In Book 9 (473-93) Satan is seen convincing himself he should not have any feelings of empathy, love, goodness while watching Eve. Initially, there were moments where Satan felt attracted to Eve, but in this monolog, he reminds himself that he came to destroy her because of hatred. He describes Eve as “opportune to all attempts” while Adam is described as the stronger and intelligent.
In line 532-548, Satan uses a convincing tone, and he graciously complements Eve, focusing on her beauty while convincing her not to doubt the serpent. Using seductive words, Satan attempts to convince Eve that she ought to be worshiped and not just be admired, as it was the case with Adam. By the end of the conversation, Satan trickery is evident as Eve is seen mesmerized at Satan’s ability to speak her language. She describes satan’s ability to speak her language as a “miracle.” She was convinced that Satan deserved her attention for being special. In lines 556-63, Satan uses his oratory skills to describe the forbidden tree. Through his convincing tone and trickery, Satan can trigger a conversation with Eve. Eve tells Satan that God has commanded them not to eat the tree. Satan replies by asking “has God then said that of the Fruit, of all the garden trees ye shall not eat/yet Lords declar’d of all the Earth or air.” The Satan’s persuasiveness and zeal make it hard for Eve to resists. He presented himself as a knowledgeable serpent. In almost an ironic paradox the “miracle” Eve describes, Satan is also amazed by Eve’s lack of reason.
As the narrator of the poem states, “hypocrisies (is), the only evil that walks/invisible, except God alone (6823). Satan uses this hypocrisy and trickery, supported by his oratory skills to conspire the fall of Adam and Eve.
Dawn Handerson. Original and eternal seduction: Satan’s psyche in paradise lost. University of North Carolina, 2008.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. The Riverside MiltonEd. Roy Flannagan. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.