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Characteristics Of Satan In Paradise Lost

Satisfactory Essays
Gizem Elbasanli
Professor Cuccia
SLS 301
5/16/2014
Is Satan a Hero?
It is important to note that a hero is not always someone who is working for the sake of furthering a just cause and that he does not have to be admired by everyone, including the reader. In fact, John Milton presents his audience with an unusual hero in his Paradise Lost. Instead of emphasizing God and his Son as the heroes of his epic poem, Milton chooses to represent Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost. The first two books of Paradise Lost describe Satan, the fallen angels, and their experiences after they fall from heaven. Satan’s followers are still confident in their ambitious leader. Satan feels pressured to somehow make it up to the fallen angels for their humiliating downfall. When nobody volunteers to explore the new world, Satan, as the commander, takes it upon himself. Due to his constant pride, Satan is courageous, a quality of an epic hero. Unfortunately, his main goal is to conquer all good things and to destroy anything representing God. Although Milton`s Satan appears to have certain heroic qualities like leadership, creativity and courage, especially in the first two books, his character evolves throughout the epic poem showing the readers that he is not a true hero.
Milton's introduction of Satan shows the reader how significant Satan is to Paradise Lost. He uses Satan's heroic qualities to introduce his followers his ability to corrupt the good. Satan is one of the greatest angels in Heaven and is known as Lucifer, meaning, ‘light bearer’. This shows he was once a good angel. Milton makes the reader see him as a leader and a strong influence on all in his presence. Satan states: "How such united force of gods, how such /
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...pportive of him, later reveal his truly destructive character, resulting in the reader disliking Satan. Accordingly, when the character of Satan is followed throughout Paradise Lost, Milton`s reason behind the order of development can be realized. Milton’s desire to create a strong hatred of Satan is achieved best by emphasizing Satan’s good points first. Then, when Satan’s real character begins to surface, the reader is shocked by the actions of their ‘hero’, causing them to dislike him more than if he had always been a bad character. The reader’s dislike of Satan is strengthened by Satan’s shift in motives. The rebellion against God, which he originally describes it as an act of freedom, later comes to be about pure corruption and hate. It’s therefore apparent that if Satan had never given up on his original motives, he could have been the hero of Paradise Lost.
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