Satan’s envious nature plagues personality; he soon establishes himself as an empowered rebel. In order to mimic and rival the authority of God, Satan immediately establishes himself in a position of power by claiming the role as the leader of the fallen. As a leader Satan exhibits the audacity of self-confidence, he claims “to be weak is miserable doing or suffering” (line 158). His claim is so commanding that the other fallen angels awaken from their state of mental unconsciousness. Satan position as an empowered rebel is illustrated through his infernal mind, and it’s craving for authority; accordingly, Satan urges the shattered forces to “Receive thy new possessor” (line 252).
Satan feels compelled to please the demons and stand up for what he believes is right. Not only does Satan show leadership within his society, but within himself. Satan has not hindered he knew he would be eternally damned to hell and approached by chaos and death. Steadman said this about leadership, “The process of moral self- determination—the driving urge toward self- definition that we normally recognize in the heroes of Homeric epic—is equally operative in Milton’s Satan, yet this very preoccupation with self, along with the craving for domination and the hunger for glory, forms the cornerstone of the infernal city. The Satanic image, as Milton presents it, is the devil’s own creation.” (Steadman) Every epic hero has a tragic flaw, in Satan circumstances his tragic flaw was pride.
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.
He uses Satan's heroic qualities to introduce his followers his ability to corrupt the good. Satan is one of the greatest angels in Heaven and is known 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 on all in his presence. Satan states: "How such united force of gods, how such / As stood like these, co... ... middle of paper ... ...pportive of him, later reveal his truly destructive character, resulting in the reader disliking Satan.
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).
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.
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.
Christ and Satan are therefore epic machines. (268-272) Although Satan may be an epic machine, he is best portrayed as the tragic anti-hero of "Paradise Lost" or, at the very least, a main character who possesses the stature and attributes which enable him to achieve tragic status. In the Greek tradition, the essential components of tragedy are admiration, fear and pity for the 'hero', who has to display a tragic weakness or flaw in his character, which will lead to his downfall. It might be argued that the flaws in Satan's character are such that we should feel no admiration, fear or pity for him, yet he can be seen to inspire these emotions. Satan's tragic flaws are pointed out in Book I.
As shown throughout Paradise Lost, but beginning in Book 1 when Satan says "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven", Satan's biggest sin is pride and because of his pride hope is unattainable for him (line 263). Milton suggests that this is the number one reason Satan is not only thrown out of Heaven, but... ... middle of paper ... ...ed" (lines 55-57; lines 60-69). As the reader reads of the horror of hell and Satan's struggle, the reader almost becomes sucked in like one of his minions. Milton portrays Satan's position as a sad state that is blamed on everyone else but himself, when in reality that's exactly whose fault it is, Satan's. Regardless of Satan's pride and vanity and hopeless situation, the quote "The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven" lies as a central theme for Satan's situation (lines 254-255).
His pride, his envy and his manipulative nature all cause him to rebel against God and lead to his own downfall. Not unlike Achilles or Oedipus, Satan is portrayed as the engineer of his own misery. This heroic characterisation of the first few books highlights the scope of his fall, from a dashing angel to a deceitful snake, and shows the audience the sneaky ways evil can be tempting. As Russell writes: “Milton also deliberately made Satan appear magnificent at the beginning so that his audience might feel all the glamour of evil” (Russell, chap.12, p.15). And magnificent he is indeed!