Essay on the Devil in Paradise Lost, Holy Bible, Faust, and Devil and Tom Walker

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The Devil’s Role in Paradise Lost, The Bible, Faust, and The Devil and Tom Walker

The devil's role as the inspiration for rock-and-roll is already well documented and commonly understood. Perhaps less well documented is the role of the Devil as inspiration for literature. The Devil has played an active role in literature for quite a while with his name appearing in stories for centuries.

The historical devil has not always been personified. Initially, in religious settings, he was represented as a feeling or power, in attendance as the force of evil, an antagonist to goodness and divinity, and temptation for humans. Although not always represented as human, he has always been represented. In fact, demonstrating that he has always been an uneraseable threatening force, early religious accounts show that his existence actually "precedes the worship of a benign and morally good Deity."1 Much later, certainly by the time of the blues of the 1920s and 1930s, songwriters were repeating the tradition of representing the devil as a person. Perhaps the most famous example is Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues," in which the singer describes a dangerous meeting with the devil while hitchhiking. In southern literature, Flannery O'Connor drew from Poe and Hawthorne to illustrate this, as well.2

A few centuries of literary evolution have not only reconfigured the devil, they have shifted the site of his battles from the heavens to the earth. Essentially, his battles changed arenas three times.3 First, the devil battled God in their once-shared home -- the arena of Heaven. After this falling out, the devil and God competed for the hearts of men in parables, as in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The third, mo...

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... Rudwin, p. xi: "[W]hen Satan was asked to explain the cause of God's enmity...he replied: 'I wanted to be an author.'"

16 Carus, p. 407.

17 Russell, p. 12.

18 Revard, Stella Purce, The War in Heaven (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980), p. 234.

19 Levine, p. 403.

20 Saxon, Lyle and Robert Tallant, Gumbo Ya-Ya (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1987), p. 80.

21 Irving, in Rudwin, p. 31.

22 Werblowski, p. 96.

23 Caballero, in Rudwin, p. 154.

24 Caballero, in Rudwin, p. 161.

25 Werblowski, p. 219.

26 Baudelaire, Charles Pierre, in Rudwin, p. 222.

27 Thackeray, William Makepeace, in Rudwin, p. 79.

28 Poe, p. 482

29 Caballero, in Rudwin, p. 157.

30 Carus, pp. 407.

31 Carus, p. 7. Also, "...there seems to be no exception to the rule that fear is always the first incentive to religious worship." Carus, p. 6.

32 Russell, p. 12.

33 Rudwin, p. xi.
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