Milton's Satan

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Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost is a complex character meant to be the evil figure in the epic poem. Whenever possible Satan attempts to undermine God and the Son of God who is the true hero of the story. Throughout the story Milton tells the readers that Satan is an evil character, he is meant not to have any redeeming qualities, and to be shown completely as an unsympathetic figure. Satan’s greatest sins are pride and vanity in thinking he can overthrow God, and in the early part of the poem he is portrayed as selfish while in Heaven where all of God’s angels are loved and happy. Satan’s journey starts out as a fallen angel with great stature, has the ability to reason and argue, but by Book X the anguish and pain he goes through is more reason for him to follow an evil path instead. Even so, Milton uses literal and figurative imagery in the description of Satan’s character to manipulate the reader’s response to the possibility that Satan may actually be a heroic figure. As the plot of the story unfolds there are moments where the reader can identify with Satan’s desires and relate to his disappointments.

In considering Aristotle’s idea of hamartia, someone who is a good person, but fell from grace, and apply it to Satan then it seems reasonable to interpret Satan as having hero like characteristics. Aristotle would say that a courageous person is inspired by confidence, faces dangerous, and acts appropriately to this courage (Nicomachean Ethics). Not only is Satan a courageous figure, but starts off as a good character even though he makes mistakes along the way. In the first two Books Milton does this very thing of portraying Satan as a hero to appeal to the readers so that they are able to identify with his charact...

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...ward making Milton’s Satan a heroic figure.

Works Cited

Aristotle. “Nicomachean Ethics”. gen ed. Cahn, Steven M., and Peter J. Markie. Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. 4th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Forsyth, Neil. "Paradise Lost And The Origin Of 'Evil': Classical Or Judeo-Christian?." International Journal Of The Classical Tradition. Literary Reference Center.

NC Live. 2000. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.

Henthorne, Susan. "Paradise Lost." Masterplots, 4th ed. Literary Reference Center. 2010. EBSCOhost. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. A. gen ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 8th Ed. New York: Norton, 2006. 1831-2055. Print.

Nienhuis, Terry. "Paradise Lost." Magill’S Survey Of World Literature, Revised Edition. Literary Reference Center. 2009. EBSCOhost. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.
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