He is "an unbeliever in and denier of all things spiritual, who only acknowledges God, like Satan, to defy him" (William Robertson Turnbull, Othello: A critical Study, 269). The opposite of Iago is Desdemona, who is described frequently by other characters as "she is divine, the grace of heaven" (Act 2, Scene 1). The ultimate defeat of good by the wrath of evil is one of Iago's motivations. It is not only in his nature of evil, that he succeeds but also in the weaknesses of the other characters. Iago uses Othello's weaknesses, especially jealousy and he knows that Othello is a man of integrity and therefore, believes others to be so until proven differently.
Regardless of the reasons for Lucifer and his angels’ fall in the York play and Lucifer’s fall in the Chester play, the fundamental idea in both plays is that evil consists in perverted free-will and the influence of this perversion will rise to its highest value if the will is in conflict with conscience. Obligations towards others is important than obligations towards ourselves. Respect to our own selves obligates us to be faithful and renounce any self-deceit. Only then will we enter into a spiritual relationship with God. Unfortunately, in both the York and the Chester play, Lucifer chooses to serve his creative and perverted free-will by succumbing to its evil intentions.
His is not a lack of intelligence, or weakness of character, very simply an acceptance of evil. It almost justifies C. S. Lewis' observation. "What we see in Satan is the horrible co-existence of a subtle and incessant intellectual activity with an incapacity to understand anything." Although the statement "Evil be thou my Good," makes no sense on the surface, it has a symbolic meaning as an expression of Satan's will to reject the hierarchy of values set before him. In doing so he creates an illusory world that reflects his adopted values, which he accepts as reality.
Hero or Fool? A Study of Milton’s Satan. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1944. Print. “Paradise Lost.”* The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Evil can be categorized into two forms, moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is brought about by bad choices that stem from our free will. Natural evil is bad things that happen to people, whether they deserve them or not. The problem with evil is, “Either we must say that God is not wholly good, and that he permits or is even the author of evil. Or we must say that God is not omnipotent, and although he is wholly good and would prevent evil if he could, he is powerless to stop it.” (Fitzgerald 340).
On the left, is evil; that which is the cause of most human misery, and prevents peace on earth. In John Gardner’s book Grendel, the retelling of the ages old story Beowulf, further blurs the line between good and evil. Circumstance and perhaps a confused view of reality allow the monster, Grendel, to conceivably defend his evil beliefs. In order to better understand evil, using Grendel as a guide, I intend to attempt to justify it. Grendel is born a neutral being, perhaps even good, but nevertheless, without hate.
Many may contend that the novel’s main character, Grendel, is guilty of evil by virtue of his vile actions. However, Gardner’s description of Grendel’s resistance to evil impulses and capability of human emotions suggest that Grendel is simply responding to his environment. Furthermore, Gardner deftly accrues readers’ sympathies towards Grendel, making it difficult for the empathetic reader to condemn the monster ex officio. By forging connections between humanity and his protagonist, Gardner indicates that readers are equally as guilty of sin as Grendel. Through this implication, he insinuates that humans are unqualified to judge Grendel’s actions, and, perhaps, each other.
"(Collier) In reality, evil is merely the absence of good. "The essence of all reality is good, evil is merely the faulty reflection of reality found in a world of particulars. "(Funk & Wagnalls) There can be many different types of evil. Two of such types are moral evil and natural evil. Natural evil consists of things like pain and suffering, while moral evil consists of making ‘bad' decisions.
How is one intended to view this compelling characterization of Satan and to land upon some kind of moral judgment of his nature? Milton chooses Satan as the protagonist of his work as he desires to challenge society’s understanding of him. He transforms the ultimate evil into a tragic heroic figure, more convincing than God, Adam, Eve, and God’s son. Through turning on its head society’s preconceived notions of human nature, Milton shows that challenging authority is an intrinsic and necessary facet of our humanity. The traditional image of Satan is that of a destroyer, tempter, and all-around malevolent being, possessing no sympathetic qualities.
Satan could be described in many terms, and by many people, but all can be disputed. According to my sources, Satan is displayed as the hero, while God is the evil deity, and Milton was wrong for writing Him as so. In this essay, I will show my thoughts on the subject of Satan as an evil deity, and other’s opinions on the matter. Satan is thought of as the tragic hero in Book 1 and 2 of Paradise Lost because he is shunned by God for trying to overthrow Him, and being ambitious enough to think he could be God. Satan, in my opinion, is not as much an evil individual, but more juvenile, and ignorant.