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Seven Deadly Sins In Paradise Lost

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In Paradise Lost, John Milton attempts to fill in the theological and literary gaps in the Bible. One way that Milton does this is by expanding on the idea of the seven deadly sins; the sins include pride, wrath, sloth, greed, envy, gluttony, and lust. In the epic poem, a certain devil represents a specific sin. Satan, for example, displays the sin that leads to most other sins: pride. When he is under God, he grows jealous and feels he deserves more than what God bestowed to him. He gathers other angels and leads a rebellion; for this act of treason, God cast them all to Hell as punishment. Milton uses Satan and the devils’ need for revenge to showcase how they advocate for sin. In Book 2, Milton uses Moloch, Belial, and Mammon to represent the deadly sins wrath, sloth, and greed.

In Book 2, Satan gathers his army in Pandaemonium to hear ideas on how to get revenge against God. Moloch is the first to speak; he suggests that they go to war and use the weapons that they have gathered in hell against the “Torturer” God (Milton). He reasons that their lives cannot get any worse, so why not try to at least disrupt the peace of heaven and possibly wound God. In Moloch’s plan they still get revenge, even though they may not gain victory. The “strongest and fiercest Spirit that fought in Heav’n” wants to fight it out until the end (Milton). Moloch was one of the most belligerent warriors in the war, so it is fitting that he represents the sin wrath. He does not hide his anger towards God; because of this, his immediate reaction is to become violent.

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Belial is the next to suggest an idea which contradicts that of Moloch. Belial’s plan is to simply stay put and do nothing. He argues that God is too well guarded and if they fight what are the chances that God can make it worse. He points out that they are currently sitting and peacefully debating instead of being chained to the lake of fire. So, if their “present lot appears for happy though but ill, for ill not worst,” why should they ask for more trouble by angering the “almighty victor” (Milton). Belial is a well-spoken devil and uses his witty way with words to try to get out of doing anything. He is a good example of the sin sloth because his plan may sound nice, but it is lazy for a warrior to want to do nothing.

After Belial, Mammon says that his idea for revenge is to stay put, but he suggests they can make a “Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n” by redecorating (Milton). He argues that there is no point of fighting because they could end up back in heaven and face oppression once again. He agrees that it is “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven,’’ which is what Satan told Beelzebub in Book 1 (Milton). Mammon believes that they should focus on making the best of the power and riches that comes with Hell; he likes that they have freedom even if it comes with a price and he is not willing to give up anything, so the sin he best represents is greed. He believes that by redecorating Hell they can have both freedom and a nice place to live.

In attempt to fill in the theological and literary gaps in the Bible, Milton dives into each character and gives the reader a descriptive vision to provide a glimpse of how the devils think and feel. Milton makes the antagonist, Satan, one of the most dynamic characters in the poem. He gives the readers a chance to see how and why Satan accomplishes the fall of man. Milton uses the devils distinctively to personify the sins, providing the readers with an impression of what each sin looks like, and to warn them to try not to fall into the same mind set as the devils in the poem. By filling in those gaps, Milton attempts to answer questions people, himself included, have wanted to know since they first heard the stories from the Bible.

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Seven Deadly Sins In Paradise Lost. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from
“Seven Deadly Sins In Paradise Lost.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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