Discuss the character of Beelzebub in Paradise Lost.


Answer: In Paradise Lost, Beelzebub, along with Satan, was one of the brightest angels in heaven. After losing the war Satan and Beelzebub were hurled down from heaven by God, and imprisoned in hell. The pair deeply wanted revenge on God, and it was Beelzebub who came up with the plan for furtive revenge. The plan was to sabotage paradise, and mortal men. Beelzebub said, ‘Less in power and excellence, but more favored by God’. From then, they try to complete their plan of seducing men to follow Satan.

Beelzebub is presented to us as the second-in-command of Satan in Paradise Lost. The word Beelzebub means ‘The god of flies’ in Hebrew. He was worshiped at Akron, a city of the Philistines as a fertility god. He is the very first fallen angel to come to after the shock of being expelled from heaven and sent down to the fiery land of hell. His value and significance in the epic is linked to the character of Satan. Milton represents Beelzebub as next to Satan in power and in crime. The crime is the crime of rebellion against god. Beelzebub followed Satan, next in the act of rebellion. Next to Satan, Beelzebub shared the greatest responsibility for the rebellion against god and overthrow of the angels.

Beelzebub is one of the rebel angels, the chief of Satan’s fellow conspirators in Heaven. He seems to be content to copy the behavior of Satan.  In Hell, he remains Satan’s chief follower. Beelzebub is also a bold leader of the rebel angels. Above all, he is a wise and sagacious counselor of Satan an able minister who has always his master’s interest at heart. He is therefore a master of diplomacy and loyal to Satan, as he effectively manipulates the other fallen angels into accepting Satan’s plan for gaining revenge against God. Beelzebub is happy to be silent and to let others voice their opinions.

Satan, however, has not Beelzebub’s wisdom and practical sense. For example, Satan rejoices at the immortality of the rebel angels, and hopes that they will thus be able to vex god through eternity Beelzebub at once points out that the immortality of the rebel angels also means eternal torture for them. Satan declares that the fallen angels will always be doing evil, thus vexing god. Beelzebub shrewdly observes that their very opposition may be turned by god into the furtherance of his own glory. Bold, proud and ambitions, Satan is at his best on a throne or at the head of an army. The proper place for the wise and sagacious Beelzebub is the council chamber.

Beelzebub’s role in Paradise Lost is quite different then that in Lord of The Flies, yet they have the same basic aspect. In both, he is trying to bring out the evil inside of people. In Lord of the Flies he brings out the bad, the violent, and the evil in the children populating the island. This is similar to what he plans to do in Paradise Lost; he wants to seduce men into following Satan, who we know as the devil. This can only call for the people finding their inside demon, and turning into one themselves, much like characters such as Jack and Roger in Lord of the Flies.

Beelzebub’s first speech [lines 128 – 155] proves that he knows better than to oppose directly his leader and thwart his will. He knows that the best way to rule a bold chief is by way of persuasion. He humors Satan and seems at first to agree with him. But then with his wise foresight Beelzebub comes forward with shrewd hunts of doubt about the future. His character, as revealed in the speech, is one of Milton’s subtlest. He is not a base coward like Belial. Nor has he the rash and unthinking courage of Moloch. He is rather the wise, practical councilor who has the good of his chief at his heart. Beelzebub also knows that a great disaster has overwhelmed them. We may note in this connection that most unlike Satan, he does not minimize the overthrow and defeat of the angels.

Satan proposes to summon his followers who are still confounded that they may either share misery with him in Hell or prepare for another contest with god. In reply to this, Beelzebub highly praises Satan as their leader. Beelzebub assures Satan of the fallen angels ‘ undying allegiance and devotion to Satan. In their with gods host, they had been cheered up by Satan’s voice. This time also they will rise from their stupefied condition on the lake of fire at their leader’s call. To quote from Prof. Raleigh’s Milton, ‘ His followers are devotedly attached to him: they admire him that for the general safety he [Satan] despised his own.’

Satan and Beelzebub are the mightiest of the rebel angels that fell from Heaven. They tower above the rest. Satan is the king of the fallen angels; Beelzebub is their Deputy. In physical strength and splendor Beelzebub is Satan’s inferior. Satan is the first of the fallen angels to recover from the stupor, Beelzebub is the second. Satan is also prouder and more courageous than Beelzebub. Beelzebub appears in many different forms, usually as a fly, a gargantuan cow, or a male goat with a long tail. Sometimes he is even described to have: cavernous nostrils, two big horns that sprout out from this head, ducks feet, a lions tail and is covered entirely covered in black hair with large bat wings that adorn his back.