Compare & Contrast

“Proverbs of Hell” by William Blake, and “Paradise Lost” by John Milton.


Comparing William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” with John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, we can visualize between those two stories some similarities that captivate the readers mind to a bigger picture of what both Blake and Milton expect their readers to persuade. In the story “Proverbs of Hell”, Blake´s thoughts are based in a comparison between God and Evil, wisdom and ignorance, right and wrong, and their consequences. However, in “Paradise Lost” Milton is asking the “Muse” (the Holy Spirit) for wisdom to explain what the fail was when Satan tempted Eve. Milton demonstrates Satan’s evil, the ignorance of humanity, and the wisdom of God. Similarly, both stories use imagery to represent that spiritual sense that cannot be seen with human eyes. They also use archetypes representing the patter between light vs. darkness suggesting the intellectual illumination with the ignorance of humanity and Evil. Lastly, they share dialectic wisdom from hell.

Spiritual Sense

What I mean with a Spiritual Sense is that both authors present their poems in a spiritual ambient. They use terms that bring us to the occult. The imagery that Blake uses in “Proverbs of Hell” keep the attention of the readers and makes their minds to think in a different way of seen things. For example, Blake said “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy” (Blake 26). Blake gives us a different perspective of life, a tip to live better. Blake tests our senses, making us to experiment that spiritualism that rules life. In the same way, the imagery represented in “Paradise lost”, Milton referred the Holy Spirit as a Dove by saying “Thou from the first Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss And mad´st it pregnant” (Milton Book 1lines 19–22) based on the bible the Holy Spirit is represented as a Dove too, Milton gives more specific details for to express greatness of God as spirit. Both stories govern their spirituality in God.

With this passage we can prove that Milton was representing the Holy Spirit as a Dove just as The Bible represents it.

Ignorance of Humanity and Satan

Here we can see an archetype between the light vs. darkness suggesting that Satan wanted something for humanity against God´s desicions. God as the most powerful man decides to create humanity and also he creates his angels and among them Satan as we saw in “Paradise Lost” and gives them the freedom to think and decide, he gives them wisdom as we saw in “Proverbs of Hell”. But when do they became ignorant?

“One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge call’d,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidd’n? 
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should thir Lord
Envie them that? can it be sin to know,
Can it be death? and do they onely stand
By Ignorance” (Milton Book 2 lines 514–519)

Satan was ignorant as Adam and Eve (TheCreation) was. When Adam and Eve were created, they were told to not eat of the Forbidden Tree, because according to the author of “Paradise Lost” Satan did not know why that tree was there. But also in “Proverbs of Hell” we can persuade that Blake is telling us that the creation (Humanity) are dump people. He writes this as prove of the capacity of humans. “A fool sees not the same that a wise man sees” (Blake 33). We can persuade that we as creation do not have the wisdom that God has. Since we can not see or distinguish between good and bad. Satan does not have that ability either. His mind was so closed that he could only see in his own selfishness what he did not like.

As we can see on a Proverb of the BibleBlakes we can say that Satan was the fool. Blake states that “ The crow wish’d everything was black, the owl that everything was white” (Blake 88) the imagery of the crow and the owl is presented we can associate it with God as the Owl, and Satan as the crow. Milton express that basically that Satan wanted humanity on hell with him and God want them to live eternity with him.

“Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
’Til you’ve lost all belief”

This song shows Satan´s actions towards our lives but the author of the song also sings of how God help us to fight against the evil of Satan. This made me think on satan’s actions, right after he saw the Forbidden Tree, he started thinking in a way to defeat God, even though it will affect humanity.

Dialectic Wisdom from Hell

Lastly, dialectic wisdom of hell is presented. Based on the dialogue that both authors use, the representation of hell is given. “Proverbs of Hell” is a poem of wisdom in where the good and the bad are presented with its consequences. But here is indicated the wisdom of man. On the contrary in “Paradise Lost” Milton ask Holy Spirit for that wisdom. In his book “Proverbs of Hell” William Blake maintains that “He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star” (Blake 34) in other words, Blake believes that if someone was never good doing something, it never will be. And we can relate this with Satan.

This image introduce us to a different panorama of coexistence between Satan, Ave and Adam. We can also get from “Paradise Lost” dialectic wisdom of hell. Milton uses terms like angels and demons.

Powers and Demonions, Deities of Heav’n,
For since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigor, though opprest and fall’n,
I give not Heav’n for lost” (Milton Book 2 lines 11–15)


In conclusion, “Paradise Lost” by John Milton and “Proverbs of Hell” by William Blake are poems that presents some connections, such as a spiritual sense, based on the expresions the authors use. The Ignorance of Humanity and Satan, because of God wisdom. And dialectic wisdom of hell pointed in the tone and illustrations the authors uses.