What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield.
I’ve just begun Paradise Lost and it’s already stunning; I’m coming across a good amount of parallels, one being the quoted lines above from Book 1—flashes of Macbeth, of vaulting ambition and some incomprehensible, dark, innate drive from within. Also, from a short story I read a while ago¹: “He clings to the last vestige of his humanity, the greatest gift handed down to him from his ape ancestors: a desire for killing, torturing, never-ending revenge.” It’s interesting that here, evil (or the idea of evil) is drawn as the deepest, thickest root of life. I suppose, from Satan’s journey as a fallen angel, one could conclude that evil is choice, as opposed to being a natural mirror of goodness. A choice against God—a choice of free will and opposition.
Again, though, I’ve only just begun (albeit, with whirlwinds of ideas and thoughts). Here’s a question to pose for a later self: is it possible, or probable, to see Satan as the key to unlocking humanity and humankind? Not as a hero, but as something essential, perhaps inevitable. Before he lures Eve to eat from the tree, Adam and Eve are obeying God’s will—they don’t yet have a sense of what it’s like to control their own choices with full, unlimited range. In other words, before the fall, they aren’t truly “human”—they’re vessels of God, in the simplest of terms. (And now, the questions of the separation, if there is one, between humankind as servers of a greater being or humankind as a sole entity. Questions that cannot be answered in black and white, i.e. the most important questions).
¹ I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air, by Clifford D. Simak