A Comparison of God and Satan in Paradise Lost

analytical Essay
1575 words
1575 words

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...

... middle of paper ... 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.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how satan questions and demands answers from the tautology of 'whence' and ’what’, and exaggerates the horrific quality of death. satan takes this insistence even further.
  • Analyzes how milton teaches that the punishment for denying g-d has devastating repercussions. satan shows his obvious aversion to defiance.
  • Analyzes how milton's omniscient voice describes g-d as being 'almighty' and "omnipotent" and argues that each is powerful in their own right.
  • Analyzes how caliban's use of speech in much of 'the tempest' is rather eloquent, but there is a sense of power and greed that needs to be discussed.
  • Analyzes how the use of the word'satisfaction' seems at odds with the sense of something retributive as in biblical terms, but more akin to personal appeasement for the crimes committed by humankind.
  • Analyzes how milton characterizes satan and g-d through language and symbolism. the serpent is strongly representative of genesis within the bible, and moreover is heavily associated with satan.
  • Analyzes how milton characterizes the characters of g-d and satan from 'paradise lost' by focusing on the themes of ambiguity and uncertainty of moral integrity.
  • Analyzes how the repetition of the word 'hell' exaggerates a sense of futility now that he has come to earth for the first time.
  • Argues that in 'paradise lost' we question g-d's reasoning for elements like whether or not he allowed satan to escape from the burning lake.
  • Analyzes how weston in 'a critical study' discusses the disparity between satan's private self and the public persona that is displayed with the poem.
  • Analyzes how g-d procrastinates and insists that the blame does not lie with him in 'paradise lost'. the sense of ambiguity is persistent when detailing his character.
  • Analyzes how milton uses 'epic similes' to describe satan, but simultaneously uses none when describing g-d. his use of biblical references elevates the mystical element to what he is both personality and physical.
  • Analyzes how the ambiguity of g-d and satan is an important element that must be discussed when trying to ascertain the characters.
  • Analyzes how empson picks up the argument with theorising that g-d deliberately leads satan into greater evil.
  • Opines that without the intensity of one character, in 'paradise lost' we would be without one.
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