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This is how Milton describes Hell as Satan sees it after his fall from Heaven:
At once, as far as Angles ken, he views

The dismal situation waste and wild:

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe,

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes at all; but torture without end

Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed

With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.

Such place Eternal Justice had prepared

For those rebellious; here their prison set,

As fat removed from God and light of Heaven

As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.

Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!
This description is brief but vivid and effective. We are to visualize a region which is sinister, barren and wild. The place is a horrible dungeon or pit burning like a huge furnace. Yet from the burning flames comes no light. The flames give out just as much light as is needed to make the darkness visible. The flames of Hell give no light. All around him Satan discerns sights of misery and unhappy dark spaces, where peace and rest can never dwell. It is a place where even hope which comes to all beings, is never felt. This region is far away from God. The contrast between this place and the Heaven conveyed to us is:
Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!
The place is perpetually afflicted with “floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire”.

Thus Milton's Hell is a place of darkness where flickering light of fire serves only to make more dark. Geologically it is a volcanic region, “fed with ever-burning sulphur” in inexhaustible quantities. Satan and his followers have fallen into a “fiery gulf”, a lake that burns constantly with liquid fire. The shore of this lake marks the beginning of a plain to which Satan flies after raising himself from the lake.
----------------------------- till on dry land

He lights—if it were land that ever burned

With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,

And such appeared in hue, as when the force

Of subterranean wind transports a hill

Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side

Of thundering Aetna, whose combustible

And fuelled entrails thence conceiving fire

Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds

And leave a singed bottom al involved

With stench and smoke:
This means that in one case it is “liquid fire”, and in the other “solid fire”. The heat of the land is naturally as intense as is that of the boiling lake. Satan walks uncomfortably over the boiling soil. Heat is everywhere. In the background, we are later told, is a volcanic mountain:
There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top

Belched fire and rolling smoke, the rest entire

Shone with a glossy scurf—undoubted sign

That in his womb was hid metallic ore,

The work of sulphur.
All these description are certainly terrifying. Milton’s object in describing Hell is two-fold; firstly, to indicate the torments which the fallen angels have to endure in contrast to the bliss and joy of Heaven which they have lost for ever; and, secondly, to infuse a feeling of horror in the readers. The modern reader, with his scientific background and scientific notions, may not feel as awed or horrified by these descriptions as readers of Milton’s time might have felt. But even the modern reader has to recognize, not only the graphic quality of the description, but its oppressive and overwhelming effect.

The size of Hell, the nature of its tortures or the degree of heat that Satan feels, such thing can be felt to the reader’s imagination, simulated by words which carry frightening associations for all of us. Hell is a place of absolute darkness, fierce heat, hostile elements and most terrible sight of all, the entire space is “valued with fire”. Its all-enclosing dreadfulness typifies the dwarfing awareness of remorse, distance from God and pain from which its inhabitants cannot escape. Though terrible it is not formless; sea and land exist and from its soil the precious metals are refined which go into the construction of Pandemonium.

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