This aspect of Satan serves as the final stage in a reader’s transition from viewing Satan as the brave leader of a just cause, to viewing him as a lowly coward. Thus, when the character of Satan is traced through its evolution of Paradise Lost, the reason behind the order of development can be seen. Milton’s desire to create a strong hatred of Satan is achieved best by highlighting Satan’s good points first. Then, when Satan’s real character begins to emerge, the reader is appalled at the actions of their “hero”, causing them to dislike him more than had he originally been a bad character. The reader’s distaste for Satan is strengthened by Satan’s shift in motives.
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.
In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan is an ambiguous character that puts a twist on this retelling of the Biblical villain. Milton forces the reader to look at evil and the antagonistic Satan in a more complex light in contrast to the unsympathetic figure referenced in other texts. As the fallen archangel, Satan is a struggling hero fighting against an oppressor, the devil that tempts man to their downfall, and the rebel that involuntarily does God’s bidding. Many of Satan’s attributes are complex and contain contradictory dualities. Satan is determined and believes in his own righteousness when he sees God as a dictator that uses his creations as amusement.
Humanizing Satan: An Examination of Satan as a Victim In John Milton’s, The Paradise Lost, Milton’s representation of Satan makes us uncomfortable due to the recognition of his humanizing and relatable reaction to what happened to him. The reader expects Satan to be an evil, and malevolent figure who does evil acts because he loves it and there is no defense for it. While these aspects are prevalent in his character in the poem, Satan does not come across as a completely wicked person but instead, a victim. The representation of Satan has a personifying quality that any of us may have and do not want to admit. In book one, Milton’s portrayal of Satan makes us uneasy because we relate to his actions, which are ordinary human responses to similar situations.
I personally believe that this book could be a story told to John Milton by the Holy Spirit. Milton's Satan is somewhat different to our thought of Satan largely because he is more complex than the Satan of the Christian tradition. Satan's rebelliousness, his seeking of transcendence and his capacity for action, particularly evil action, change certain people’s viewpoints on him, even if their viewpoint might be considered theologically misleading. The question is: do we actually understand Satan and evil by means of the book Paradise Lost? In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan is banished from Heaven for his defiance against God.
He carries on by revising the history of the fallen angels who's "strife was not inglorious, though the event was dire" (Line 624) Satan addresses the shame in them falling from heaven, but holds the idea that God only triumphed because he tricked them "still his strength concealed, which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fail." (Lines 641-642). At this point we adore Satan because of his struggle and look at him as the hero in the story, we know that he cannot defeat God however we feel for him. Satan's rhetoric in his argument holds a powerfully, convincing tone. Although the concept of the debate is for the fallen angels to determine whose idea to pursue, we sense that Satan is instructing them to follow him.
In Milton's Paradise Lost, he writes the story of the fall of Satan, his followers, and mankind. Many critics often view Satan as the unlikely or tragic hero of the epic poem. Satan is, obviously, the main character throughout most of the poem, but not necessarily the hero. Satan's main purpose is to fight G-d, and try to be on the same level as Him. The important thing is to realize that Satan is sin, and being humans, who are all born into sin, we can easily relate to a sinful character.
He rallies the other fallen angels and even inspires the readers to be moved by some of the things he states. Milton’s epic can be seen as a way to celebrate the evil character however, when one knows the background of the author it is obvious that this appearance of Satan as a hero is meant as a metaphor for the fact that Satan and his evil ways can seem appealing and how easily one can be caught in his trap. Milton uses his skill with words and literature to make the Devil appear endearing or heroic to the those reading his poem yet the poem symbolizes how one can mistake the evil of Satan for something good. Milton’s heroic Satan is only a symbol of the demon he truly is in disguise.
In his epic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton presents Satan as a complex and multifaceted figure. As Jeffrey Burton Russell describes in The Prince of Darkness, Milton’s goal in writing this epic poem was to “justify the ways of God to men” (Russell, chap.12, p.15). With this in mind, it is easy to interpret the character of Satan as a mere foe, the evil at the opposite of God’s goodness, and to see God as the obvious protagonist of the poem. Things in Milton, however, are not quite as black and white, and while the justification of God’s actions is at the centre here, it is the character of Satan who drives the poem forward, as a protagonist should. Satan is presented as a heroic figure from the very beginning of the poem.
For example it may seem ultimately that Satan (even by his very name) is a creature of great evil. However, Milton shows elements of self doubt and an almost pitiful nature, forming a contradiction of the stereotypical image of what Satan represents. : 'Which way I fly is hell: My self am hell' The repetition of the word 'hell' exaggerates a sense of futility now that he has come to Earth for the first time. The questioning tone implied by the use of the word 'which' further empathises this. The reader no longer needs to label the morality of such a character; Satan defines himself with the use of the pronoun 'my' and the preceding definition and assessment that 'My self am hell'.