Classics Summarized: Paradise Lost

Classics Summarized: Paradise Lost


Red: So! Satan, Right? There’s this weird modern image of Lucifer as this kind of misunderstood anti-hero: A handsome, chainsmoking bad boy with fiery wings, daddy issues, and a sixteen-pack that could cut glass. This is often justified with the explanation that Lucifer Morningstar was a solid 10, and when he fell from Heaven he retained his good looks and charm. But the seductive, bad boy persona is actually not his traditional representation. Medieval manuscripts paint Satan as less of a “Prince of Darkness”, and more like “The Creature from The Black Lagoon”. Now, both interpretations have literary merit. Sexy Satan has the benefit of being someone you could see yourself selling your soul to, while Ugly Satan makes more sense conceptually, since if he was going to be spending eternity trying to seduce humanity to the dark side, it would make sense for God to not make it unnecessarily easy on him by making him not so easy on the eyes. So the question remains: Where did the idea of Sexy Satan come from? Yes, I know the first answer is “the internet”, in which literally everything is re-imagined to be sexy, but this interpretation actually dates back to the time before the internet. So what did it? The answer, like the answer to so many other literary questions, is that somebody wrote a critically acclaimed piece of revisionist fan-fiction about it. In this case, a little ditty known as “Paradise Lost”. Now, “Paradise Lost” is weird for a variety of reasons. Not the least which being that someone looked at THIS and somehow saw THIS. But the more important weirdness is one that’s easily overlooked by modern audiences: Namely, that this poem was originally written in English, AND that is was about God. [crickets] Okay, let me clarify that statement a little. Basically, Paradise Lost was an epic poem written at a time when the thought of writing an epic poem on anything but the Greco-Roman pantheons was pretty much unthinkable. Let alone writing it in a garbage-y commoner language like English. And on top of that, to complete his– uhhhh.. I don’t know. Inverse blasphemy? Milton began his poem by invoking a muse, in traditional epic poetry fashion, but rather than pollute his nice, biblical epic poem with the ACTUAL Greek Muses, he instead went straight to the top and invoked the Holy Ghost himself to serve as the inspiration to this charming vignette. That’s right. Much like his protagonist, Milton was breaking ALL the rules. So our story begins, unsurprisingly, in Hell, shortly after Sexy Satan and his pals were cast out of Heaven. There’s a more detailed explanation later, but the short of it is: Sexy Satan called out God in front of all of this friends, there was a big ol’ war in heaven, and Satan and his friends, unsurprisingly, lost. Now this is played like a fallen hero confronting a tyrannical ruler and being brutally crushed. But seeing as the POV character is… ya know… SATAN, That perspective should probably be taken with a grain of salt. This reaches absurd heights when Sexy Satan dramatically begins to rally his fallen comrades (no pun intended) In a dramatic, heart-felt, and rousing speech that touched hearts around the world and should never be forgotten. And neither should the fact that it was being said by SATAN. So anyway, this time, says Satan, they’re going to need to be sneakier because… …well… …because THAT. Oh, brief side note: You may have noticed some so-called “Pagan Gods” in the crowd of fallen angels, including the entire Greek and Egyptian pantheons. …yeeeaaaaaahh.. It’s an unfortunate truth of religious writings that most authors don’t allow for multiple sets of gods in the same literary universe. For a lovely subversion of this trope, read anything written by Neil Gaiman ever. Because this is one of those books about God with a capital G, I’m afraid our old Greek friends have been re-written as demons in order to reconcile their existence with the Big Man Upstairs. The fallen angels make themselves a big, shiny conference hall called “Pandemonium,” and start debating how best to mess with God. Now Sexy Satan has heard through the grapevine that God’s fixing to make a NEW world populated by some new creatures who God would favor just as much, if not more, than the Angels. And this, by the way, is where “Daddy Issues” Satan first originates. Satan decides the best way to screw with God is to do to these new, beloved creatures what God did to him and his friends: make them sin, and thus fall. Satan: “Yeah, not so beloved NOW are ya? Why should YOU be good enough for him when I wasn’t? You can’t even FLY!” Daddy issues… So Satan sets about breaking out of Hell so as to wreak havoc on God’s new kids. This is complicated slightly by the fact that the gates of Hell are guarded by Satan’s daughter, Sin, and his son/grandson, (Really, don’t ask. It’s gross) Death. So Sin’s like, “Yeah, I’m not opening the gate. God said not to.” Satan’s like, “Oh yeah? Well is God your *real* dad? I didn’t think so.” And Sin’s like, “You make a fantastic point,” and opens the gate for him. So Sexy Satan scoots heaven-ward through Chaos, which is apparently where Hell is, because smash-cut to God, chilling up in heaven with his favorite son. So God apparently knows that Satan is going to tempt humanity to fall, and he’s totally cool with it, But it is going to complicate matters with regards to humanity being able to enter Heaven So God decides to give everyone a conscience to help guide them in the right direction. But Jesus is like “Hey, Dad, it’s great and all that humanity’s going to have a guiding conscience to keep them from sinning, but what about original sin? That’s not something they can get rid of, and with it, nobody’s going to be able to enter Heaven.” And God’s like “Gee, you’re right. If only we had someone who’d be willing to incarnate and die REALLY painfully in order to cleanse humanity of their sins! So… Could I get a volunteer from the audience? Jesus, m’boy? You want to do your old man proud?” So Jesus agrees, and God explains that Jesus will incarnate, die REALLY painfully, defeat Satan and Death itself, initiate the Rapture, seal off Hell, and become the sole ruler of the Universe. Not necessarily in that order. Anyway, back to our nominal hero Satan, who’s popped out into the Solar System and encountered Uriel, the Angel of Light, who’s hanging out on the Sun, presumably for thematic appropriateness. So Satan disguises himself as a cherub –probably the more non-threatening version– and innocently asks Uriel which planet God’s been building Eden on, Since he *really* wants to get a little peek. Uriel points him Eden-ward, and Satan touches down in Paradise. Now this is where Satan abruptly lapses into brooding self-pity, pondering how the true hell is the misery he brings with him– Wow, you know, that sounds like a much easier problem to solve than actually being in Hell. Have you considered Yoga? So Sexy Satan runs away from his emotional problems, and hops into the Garden of Eden to spy on Adam and Eve, who are hanging out and being all lovey-dovey. So Adam causally mentions how the only rule in Eden is not to eat the Fruit of Knowledge, So Sexy Satan is like “Aha! For my brilliant plan, I’ll make them eat the Fruit of Knowledge!…” “Inspired.” …is discovered by the forces of Heaven, led by the Archangel Gabriel, and they try to outcool each other for a few minutes, before God gets tired of all the preening and tells Satan to scram before he gets his ass kicked. So Adam and Eve wake up the next morning, but Eve apparently had a bad dream involving a sexy angel telling her to taste his apple. So in the dream, Eve ate the apple and flew up to heaven with the angel guy. Yeah…a horrible nightmare? So Adam’s like “Oh, there’s no need to worry, darling. I know you you’d never eat anything you’re not supposed to.” [clears throat] So anyway, that evening, the angel Raphael comes down for dinner, oddly concerned about the prospect of Satan wreaking havoc in Paradise. And he tells Adam and Eve what happened in Heaven to facilitate the creation of Hell and the fall of Lucifer. I’d explain in detail, but this *is* supposed to be a summary video, so instead, I’ll boil it down to two words: DADDY ISSUES! Thaaat’s Right! Satan, used to being the Big Man’s favorite creation, got all huffy when God introduced fan favorite Jesus to the Angel crew, and he felt like his spot at the top of the popularity charts was being threatened. Now, like any reasonable antihero, he decided to resolve this in the most needlessly self-destructive manner possible, Guaranteeing that if he wasn’t going to be God’s favorite, he’d be his number one problem. And then war in Heaven, blah blah blah, Jesus saves the day, blah blah, creation of the Earth. Eve gets bored and wanders out halfway through, and I’m half tempted to join her. *GASP* OK, cut me some slack. I’m on vacation! So anyway, next morning Adam and Eve have a bit of an argument. Adam thinks they should work together in the gardens, while Eve thinks Adam’s not the boss of her. And meanwhile, Satan sneaks back into Eden and possesses a snake, then lies in wait for one of the humans to come wandering by. Soon, who should appear but Eve, who’s decided that asserting her independence while Satan is actively gunning for her and her husband is the best way to spend and otherwise lazy Wednesday. Oh, and here’s another sexy bad boy trope for you: As soon as Satan claps eyes on the lovely Eve, he momentarily forgets his anger and hatred, and is simply entranced by her ethereal beauty. And this is sort of a sub-trope of the various “love redeemed the bad boy” tropes, where the heroine’s mere presence does a lot to soften the antihero. This handily saves the writer from having to write the heroine with more complexity than “She’s like *so* hot and *super* forgiving,” So he can focus on the “Man-Crush Monday” that is his bad boy antihero and his various emotional issues. Luckily for all of us, this trope is subverted very quickly as Sexy Satan steels his nerves and lets the hate flow through him as he gears up to trick Eve into falling. So he gets Eve’s attention, and Eve’s like “Whaaaat??? Talking Snake??” And Satan’s all like “That’s right babe. I talk.” And Eve’s like “I didn’t know that was a thing.” And Satan’s like “I bet there’s a lot you don’t know. Like, for example, that a little old snake like me can gain the power can gain the power of speech by sampling one of those delicious-looking apples from that tasty forbidden tree. And Eve’s like “Oooooh. Yeah, I can’t do that; I’ll die or something.” And Satan’s like “Come on, babe. Don’t you think God would admire your initiative for doing literally the only thing he told you not to do? It’s not like he’ll *kill* you or anything. I mean, I totally ate one. It’s not like God cast *me* out of Paradise over something as dumb and insignificant as that. And Eve’s like, “Well, if you put it that way…” So Adam’s like, “Oh man Eve. You f**ked up and you f**ked up big time.” And Eve’s like, “What’d you say?” [Behind mouthful of fruit], And Adam’s like “I mean…[cough]. Nothing. Y–You know what, sweetie? I didn’t mean anything. Hand me one of those apples. We’re going down together.” Then they…uh…go down together, wake up with a nasty wisdom hangover, and spend the rest of the day arguing over who’s fault it was that they screwed up badly. So the next day, Jesus pops down to deal with the issue, and he’s like “See Eve? This is why you don’t make decisions without your husband.” Satan: “Oh, Please. You think I couldn’t have got *that* guy to do something stupid? I’m the Father of Lies; he’s not even wearing pants!” Adam: “AHHHH, I’M NOT EVEN WEARING PANTS!” Jesus: “Not. Helping. Satan.” Satan: “HA! I’ve never had my existence summarized so succinctly before. Jesus: [groans] Satan: “Call me when Dad makes you suffer and DIE for these losers. I’ll just be over here… Ruling in Hell! Hahahahahahaha!” Red: Daddy issues? Satan: “I HEARD THAT!” So Satan returns triumphant back to Hell. But the coolness of his reentry is diminished somewhat by the fact that he and his friends are all abruptly turned into snakes, as punishment for the whole “tempting humanity to fall” thing. Don’t worry. It doesn’t stick, and he’s back to his old Sexy Satan-y self again shortly thereafter, but I imagine it’s still rather jarring. Sin and Death are wreaking havoc in Heaven, God’s trying to reorganize the Solar System, and Adam and Eve are reconciling after that little hiccup in their relationship. Then they get thrown out of Paradise. [Booing] Hey, what do you want? They broke the rules fair and square. You want there to be no consequences for that kind of shenaniganery?? “Kinda?” You shut your mouth Lucifer! I see you back there! So Michael shows Adam some views of the future, which is basically the Bible on fast forward, and explains that Satan will get what’s coming to him when Jesus comes back to life. So Adam and Eve descend out of Eden, secure in the knowledge that, eventually, things will get better. [Epic music] Satan: “Awesome. This was a terrible idea.” [Epic music continues]

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