I’ve been taking a class on John Milton this semester and though the last thing a second semester senior wants to do is read hundreds of pages a week, Paradise Lost has really gotten me thinking about love and power. I may be a crazy person for sympathizing and agreeing with Satan but this famous section of the epic poem has been running through my head for weeks:
“To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.” (264-265)
Through the bitterness and delights of my life, thus far I can see myself preferring to be a Queen in Hell than a servant in Heaven. All of my favorite people are probably coming with me anyway. I’m sure it’s going to be closer to a giant hot tub party than anything Dante imagined. I say that I’m Catholic, but I don’t have any real strong religious beliefs. I want success and I want to make something of myself. And no, I’m not saying that if there really are a heaven and hell that I would like to burn for all eternity. I just don’t believe that’s what “hell” is like. To me, this poem is about power. About the hunger for it, and about being willing to fight for success with every last inch of your soul. I’ve learned to crave it over the last 6 years, after having to rebuild everything from the ground up.
To me, ambition has become my lifeblood. I can taste it in everything I do, everything I feel. I revel in working hard and seeing the fruits (yes, a Milton pun) of my labors. It’s been a really hard couple of years, but seeing how far I’ve come makes me excited (and definitely nervous) for what lies ahead in this city that I’ve fallen so in love with. I have dreams of being the head hancho in editorial, a monster amongst editors of a major magazine. I dream of writing a best-selling novel. I dream of owning my own apartment in Soho and summering in The Hamptons. I live for the idea of success. I don’t think I could ever be happy just being someone’s employee (or in Satan’s case, servant) for the rest of my life. I want it all. And you know what? I’m okay with admitting that.
So, yes, I would rather rule in hell.