Comparison of God and Satan in Paradise Lost
In this essay I shall be focusing on the characters of G-d and Satan from 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton. Within the essay I shall be attempting to elucidate on the themes of ambiguity of the two characters as well as the uncertainty of moral integrity of each, characterized by John's Milton's use of sentence structure, private thoughts and symbolism.
Foremost I would like to look at the way the way in which Milton characterizes the characters of Satan in particular. Milton specifically presents different elements of Satan's character by his interaction with those around him. For example it may seem ultimately that Satan (even by his very name) is a creature of great evil. However, Milton shows elements of self doubt and an almost pitiful nature, forming a contradiction of the stereotypical image of what Satan represents.:
'Which way I fly is hell: My self am hell'
The repetition of the word 'hell' exaggerates a sense of futility now that he has come to Earth for the first time. The questioning tone implied by the use of the word 'which' further empathises this. The reader no longer needs to label the morality of such a character; Satan defines himself with the use of the pronoun 'my' and the preceding definition and assessment that 'My self am hell'. Furthermore through Satan's own assessment the distancing technique by the word 'my' appears to exaggerate the notion of the definition of himself, the natural pause due to the unusual syntax further accentuates this. The use of Milton's alliteration in 'Racked with deep despair' when describing Satan's countenance only empathises this pitiful nature.
However this sense of self dou...
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...ng that G-d deliberately leads Satan into greater evil.
From the outset it appears that G-d and Satan remain in opposition together, an important characterisation of Milton. 'Paradise Lost' states that Satan was acting;
'Against the throne and monarchy of G-d.'
Weston continues this theme by saying that:
'In a fundamental sense, then, the 'hell' of human struggle can be said to have produced the 'heaven' of peace and harmony.'
In other words without the intensity of one character, in 'Paradise Lost' we would be without the other.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bush, D. 'John Milton' Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1964.
Empson, W. 'Milton's G-d' Penguin, London, 1973.
Milton, J. 'Paradise Lost' Penguin, London, 1955.
Weston, P. 'Paradise Lost- A Critical Study, Penguin Middlesex, 1984.