Distinguishing Between Bad and Evil

Satisfactory Essays
Distinguishing Between Bad and Evil
John Milton’s works Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle all have antagonists that are Milton’s representations of evil. However, when closely examining Satan in Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained it is easily recognizable that Satan’s character has taken a remarkable shift in that he no longer questions his immoral actions just like Comus never questions his actions in A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle. This close examination brings about the question what’s the difference between being an evil being and a person with bad character? This essay will evaluate how Satan in Paradise Lost is just a bad character whereas Satan in Paradise Regained and Comus are evil beings.
In Paradise Lost Milton creates Satan’s character with intricate conflicting dualities, ultimately creating him as both good and bad. Milton’s careful and complex development of Satan’s character both establishes and revokes the idea of Satan being good and bad. He uses this tension between Satan’s appealing attributes and bad qualities allowing the reader to be able to relate to Satan on some level. He is also using this tension to tempt the reader to give into Satan’s alluring speeches and challenging them to resist it. Satan is a great speaker; he knows exactly what everyone wants to hear. His speeches are so convincing that even the reader is tempted to fall into the notion that they are all just innocent victims: “Me though just right, and the fixed laws of heaven Did first create your leader, next free choice, with what besides, in counsel or in fight, Hath been achieved of merit, yet this loss” (ln 18-21) Even though Satan’s speeches are intriguing and sound wonderful they are embedded...

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... nothing other than pure evil. However, Satan in Paradise Regained does not share the same power in his speech and his evil is evident throughout the entire epic.
Milton has shifted from provoking the reader to relate to Satan and become sympathetic towards his cause in Paradise Lost to causing the reader to fear and disgust Satan in Paradise Regained to Comus in A Masque at Ludlow Castle who shares demonic qualities of both characters. Where Satan in Paradise Lost commits atrocities but questions them Satan in Paradise Regained and Comus commit these atrocities with no question and no concern for the moral selves. Milton uses the power of speech in order to teach his readers that one should not be fooled by charm, wit and should take notice to manipulation. This shift removes the question of what is evil, and replaces it with the recognition between bad and evil.
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