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Paradise Lost Analysis

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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 introduction of Satan shows the reader how significant Satan is to Paradise Lost. He uses Satan's heroic qualities to his followers, and his ability to corrupt to show the thin line between good and evil. Satan was one of the highest angels in Heaven and was know as Lucifer, meaning, light bearer. This shows he was once a good angel. Milton makes the reader see him as a leader and a strong influence to all in his presence. He best describes Satan's ways when stating, "His pride/ had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host. / Of rebel angels, by whose aspiring/ To set himself in glory above his peers" (Milton Book I). Satan's pride was the main reason that God banned him from heaven. Satan always tried to be number one and a leader, instead of following in God's shadow. He would of lived a life in Paradise forever, but he had to follow his feelings as he states, "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven" (Milton 31). This shows how strongly he felt about not being above everybody else.

Milton uses many events like the ones listed above to encourage the reader to view Satan as a hero. "Satan is described to be the brightest and most important angel" (McColley 32). These traits of Satan show...

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...e lead to ingratitude towards God" from the beginning of the epic (Weber 25). Although Satan is a great warrior and can give wonderful speeches, he seems to be hypocritical of what he tells his followers he believes and what he really does. An example of this is when we are first introduced to Satan. Satan and the other fallen angels are in hell and Satan tells the others to not be frightened, when he is frightened as well.

The character of Satan "deteriorates" greatly through the epic (Ruma 81). Satan is viewed as a great warrior and then as time passes, his own followers begin to doubt him. "Milton has his brilliant hero advance to be met and repulsed, first verbally, and then in arms" (Revard 225). This explains how the two most heroic qualities, that Milton uses to describe Satan as a rebellious hero, were diminished and Milton's Satan is not a hero after all.
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