Misguided in his belief about God and himself and blinded by his need for revenge for perceived wrongs, Satan proclaims that it is “[b]etter to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” (Book I, 263) and proceeds to continue his battle with God. Though given the opportunity to return to Heaven through the simple act of submission to God’s will, Satan’s selfishness and shame prevent him from doing so. He justifies his refusal to accept forgiveness by deluding himself into blaming God and assuming the status of a victim.
In understanding Satan’s rationale for not accepting forgiveness so that he might return to Heaven, it is important to first understand the depth of delusion under which he reasons. From the beginning his proclamations about Heaven and Hell are made through the filter of this delusion.
We shall be free. Th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for His envy, will not drive us hence.
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell (Book I, 259-262)
It is impossible to be free in Hell. Hell, by definition is a place of confinement for those who have committed wrongs against God. However, Satan believes that because God is not present in Hell, he and the other devils have achieved freedom. For him, service to God in Heaven, however light a burden was to be imprisoned. Going to war with God was a justifiable attempt to gain freedom from God. This is a misguided belief. God offers true freedom. He could have forced His angels to serve Him. However, because God wants genuine love and devotion from His Creation, He allowed them to have free will to make whatever choice they would make.
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