Fall from Grace: Satan as a Spiritually Corrupt Hero in Milton's Paradise Lost

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Fall From Grace: Satan as a Spiritually Corrupt Hero in Milton's Paradise Lost

Can Satan -- a being, so evil that even as an Ethereal being of Heaven, who was cast out of God's grace - be a hero? John Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost is very much a romanticized character within the epic poem, and there has been much debate since the poem's publishing in 1667 over Milton's sentiments and whether Satan is the protagonist or a hero. As an angel in God the Father's Heaven, Satan rose up with a group of following of one-third of all of Heaven's angels and tried to unseat Jehovah from His station as the Divine Ruler. God cast Satan and the other rebellious angels out of Heaven and eternally damned them to Hell and to morph into demonic devils. The poem opens just after Satan has entered Hell, where all hope seems lost for the creatures cast down by God unto the lake of fire. Milton has created this undeniably evil and corrupt character in Satan, who manages to usher sympathy from the audience by granting him a heroic stance: Satan tries to overcome his own faults and complete his ultimate goal of corrupting the mankind that Jehovah plants upon the Earth.

To fully understand Satan's role as a hero in Paradise Lost, the term "hero" must be defined in several contexts. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a hero as:

A man distinguished by extraordinary valour and martial achievements; one who does brave or noble deeds; an illustrious warrior.

A man who exhibits extraordinary bravery, firmness, fortitude, or greatness of soul, in any course of action, or in connexion with any pursuit, work, or enterprise; a man admired and venerated for his achievements and noble qualities.


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