Milton and Dante use the Bible stories as a backdrop for their epic poems of love and of loss wherein a single unique character, a bearer of light is made to reverberate humanity and the supreme basic darkness that is the soul of man, one can note these key elements vis-a-vis his appearance, domain and the influence of Lucifer. Since the every dawn of time, man has had to make swift judgements. The main point of all judgement is appearance and such this is most logical place to start. Appearance plays a rather crucial role in the works under the scope of this essay. Firstly, in Paradise Lost one should note that a reoccurring theme of: “its better to rule in Hell then be a servant in Heaven,” (Milton.I.263) makes a few significant points regarding make aspects into the neosis of Satan, but more so the appearance of Satan.
There have been many different interpretations of John Milton's epic, Paradise Lost. Milton's purpose in writing the epic was to explain the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Although the epic is similar to the Bible story in many ways, Milton's character structure differs from that of the Bible's version. Through-out the epic Milton describes the characters in the way he believes they are. In book II of Paradise Lost, Milton portrays Satan as a rebel who exhibits certain heroic qualities, but who turns out not to be a hero.
Milton’s poem is written from the point of view of Satan and in such a way that he appears to be the heroic figure of the tale. Satan is given lines to uplift the demons of hell, seeming to empower them and as he sets off to derail the lives of Adam and Eve, the insight the reader has into the thoughts of the Devil almost make him appear to be the hero. The Satanic character of Milton’s Paradise Lost is shown to be primarily motivated by revenge against God, the creation of chaos, and the gain of power yet somehow he is stilled viewed as the hero to the reader and the other fallen angels in the story. As Satan and his followers were thrown from the heavens by God, during the poem, the fallen Angel seeks his revenge by creating another revolt against the Lord. At the beginning of the poem the Angels who have been cast down to hell speak of the actions they should next take, whether they should seek revenge or should be peaceful and submissive to the lot they have been given.
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 the same manner as Adam, Satanic heroes desire and seek knowledge and power. However, during that quest authors impart their villainous nature, despite decent personalities. The search for knowledge eventually leads to their destruction. Thus, authors find Adam’s story to have three critical commonalities with the Satanic hero archetype. The criteria of stories involving Satanic heroes leads to unique situations and writing throughout the novel.
Satan's tragic flaws are pointed out in Book I. They are envy, pride, and ambition towards self-glorification. Satan's pride, in particular, is stressed throughout Paradise Lost. In accordance with epic convention, Satan is frequently qualified by Milton's use of the word 'proud'. Virgil used the same device in his epic the Aeneid, in which the name of Aeneas rarely appears without being preceded by 'pious'.
Milton described Hell as a “lake of fire” (280) and commented on the “Floods and Whirlwinds of tempestuous fire” (77). He indicated that darkness is given off instead of light: “No light, but rather darkness visible” (63). The devils, especially Satan, were characterized in more detail than the angels or God. The first two books of Paradise Lost featured the fallen angels’ debate regarding their future plans. As a “true Poet” Milton sought to appeal to the emotions of his readers.
“The Rhetoric of Restraint in Heart of Darkness” in Nineteenth Century Fiction, Volume 32, Issue 3 (Dec. 1977), pp. 310-26 – available through www.jstor.org * Raskin, Jonah. The Mythology of Imperialism (New York: Random House, 1971) * Rudyard Kipling’s Verse, ‘Definitive Edition’ (London: Hudder & Stoughton, 1940) * Watts, Cedric. “‘A Bloody Racist’: About Achebe’s View of Conrad” in Joseph Conrad; Critical Assessments, Keith Carabine, ed., Volume II: ‘The Critical Response: Almayer’s Folly to The Mirror of the Sea’ (Mountfield: Helm Information Ltd., 1992)
Satan possesses similar qualities to the epic heroes of antiquity, except in a distorted and unorthodox manner. By placing a villainous character as the seeming hero of his work, Milton satirizes the epic tradition. As stated by Matt Wallace in his essay, “A Devil of a Problem: Satan as Hero in Paradise Lost”, “Milton wrote Paradise Lost as an inverted epic or anti-epic. He has twisted and reversed the epic conventions to conform them to his retelling of the Biblical account of Creation and the Fall as given in Genesis” (Wallace). The epic tradition calls for the hero to possess distinct traits and experience certain events, all of which Satan embodies and encounters.
Mahood, M. M. "Milton's Heroes," in Alan Rudrum, ed., Milton: Modern Judgements, London: Macmillan, 1968, 262-63. Milton, John. Paradise Lost in The Portable Milton. Editor Douglas Bush, New York: Viking Press, 1977. Patrides, C.A.