Satan: The True Hero of Paradise Lost by Milton
The identity of the true protagonist in Paradise Lost is a mystery. One would gather that Milton, a Puritan, would have no problem casting God as the hero, and Satan as the antagonist. However, looking back in history, Milton saw that most epic heroes had conflicts that prevented them from accomplishing their goals. God and his Son have no conflict, and Adam’s story does not really begin until the Fall of Man. Therefore, Milton was forced to select Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost because he adheres to the guidelines of epic poetry set by Homer, Virgil and others. There are many examples of how Milton uses and edits the tradition of these previous epics in the formation of the Devil as a hero. One of the most basic examples of heroism in epic poetry is the exhortation of the leader to his followers. In The Odyssey, Homer lets Odysseus give a speech that would convince anyone they could survive the journey to the Strait of Messina, "Then we die with our eyes open, if we are going to die, or know what death we baffle if we can. (Ln.1243-1245)" After passing the Sirens, the ship approaches the Strait, and the crew sees the twin terrors of Scylla and Charybdis, they are mortified. Odysseus again lifts their spirits with this speech, "Friends, have we ever been in danger before this? More fearsome, is it now, than when the Cyclops penned us in his cave? What power he had! Did I not keep my nerve, and use my wits to find a way out for us? … Heads up, lads! We must now obey orders as I give them. (1294-1302)" Odysseus shows the true ability of a hero to lead in the face of adversity. Of course, Odysseus had the assurance that he would survive the journey although his crew would not, but that does not stop Odysseus from leading them. Milton utilizes the same device in the opening scenes of Paradise Lost. After suffering a major defeat at the hands of the Almighty and his angels, Satan awakens in a lake of fire. He first speaks to Beelzebub, his second in command, telling him, "All is not lost, the unconquerable Will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield: and what else is not to be overcome?… Since by Fate the strength of Gods and Empyreal substance cannot fail, Since though experience of this great event in Arms not worse, in foresight much advance’s, We may with more success...
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...nowing (Satan is just hunk of mass with no free will) and that Satan is our epic hero (Satan is head the rebel angels). Satan also loses because of the fact that due to his trickery he would be a snake forever, and that The Son was going to come down to earth and die to save Adam & Eve, so that Satan’s action would be eliminated. Break down Paradise Lost to it bare essentials, removing all religious overtones, and all that remains is an epic poem. The hero of this poem is a man named Satan who is banished for challenging the leadership of the clan. This man Satan makes a vow to destroy or corrupt anything created by the clan. This Satan was resourceful, making the best of what he had, very little, and accomplishing his goal. Satan may just be the nonconformist who could not abide by what was considered normal. In any case, one must show their admiration for Satan in his unwillingness to serve in Heaven, and then in the way he accepted his resulting role in Hell.
MacCaffrey, Isabel. "Satan’s Voyage". Modern Critical Views: John Milton . Bloom, Harold, ed. Chelsea House Publishers: New York, 1986.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Signet Classic: New York, 1982.
Hero can be distinct as an individual who is accepted or idealized for bravery, exceptional accomplishment, or dignified traits. On the other hand, Satan is known as the leader of all wickedness. With these descriptions in mind, one can determine that John Milton’s character, Satan, in Paradise Lost, is in fact the epic’s hero. Although non-traditional, one can determine that Satan is the epic hero because of textual evidence found in all twelve books of Paradise Lost. The implications implied throughout the twelve books of Paradise Lost entail Satan as the hero because of the information Milton provides to the reader about Satan’s actions and results thereof.
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. It is troubling to say that in this particular poem, Satan resembles humans. However, our human nature is to have an instant reflex to justify our actions without taking any responsibility, which resembles the way Satan justifies his mischievous acts in this poem. Most of the time, we would never think of Satan as a victim; yet, we find ourselves discovering our human nature in Satan’s rationalizations. So, what humanizes this monstrous figure? After thoroughly reading book one, there are many instances when Satan justifies what he has done to make sense of it. Satan believes that God deceived him because he did not know how much power he possessed. According to Satan, God did unjust things that justified his actions. Satan has a whole rationale that God had arbitrary power that caused Satan to become the way he is in the poem. This perception serves as Satan’s foundation on behalf of his justification, which we all can relate to because he does not take responsibility but pr...
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 John Milton's paradise lost, Satan, the antihero is a very complex character. His character changes dramatically from his first appearance till his last. He is the main reason of the fall of mankind, and he is the main reason for this whole poem. Satan, whom angel name was Lucifer, is a fallen angel. Due to his great pride, he defied god and tried to overthrow him and he was thrown out of heaven, after his failed attempt.
From the very beginning of time, many people believe that Satan is evil because they weren’t taught otherwise, but john Milton proves it in his poem that Satan is very much just like us, and you can be sympathetic for Satan because he disobeyed God .In paradise lost by John Milton, Satan is a sympathetic character because he comes off more like man then the figure of God. Anything he does, Feels, or acts on is just like a human
Seeing paradise only reminds Satan of what he lost as a result of his fall from Heaven. Satan comes to the conclusion that he is the very embodiment of hell, bringing it everywhere he goes : “The Hell within him, for within him Hell /He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell/One step no more then from himself can fly (20-22).” Compared to the Bible, we actually get to see the torment Satan suffers as he lives his life as God’s adversary. Satan actually takes responsibility for his fall , pointing out the flaws that led to it: “Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down” ( 40 ) . Unlike the Satan in Genesis and Job, Milton’s Satan clearly understands why he has fallen. As Satan continues to ponder his situation , he realizes that even if there was a chance for his redemption, he would never be comfortable being God’s servant. Sooner or later, the same feelings of inferiority and the desire to overthrow God would rise. Satan becomes bitterer as his soliloquy goes on and resolves that his fate is sealed : “So farwel Hope, and with Hope farwel Fear,/ Farwel Remorse: all Good to me is lost;/Evil be thou my Good;”( 108-110). He then goes on to continue his revenge plot on God. Angry with God for putting him in the position to fall , Satan sees the same potential for failure in Adam and Eve. He then explains that it is in fact God’s fault that he must corrupt them and tells them to “ Thank him
Our pity for his torment that he suffers and the very nature of his circumstances are sufficient to render him deserving of tragic status in the book. You could argue that if Satan is the tragic anti-hero of Paradise Lost, then one could argue that Adam must be the real tragic hero because the fact the he falls for Satan’s sin. we can draw the conclusion that both Adam and Satan fall from there homes as a result of their free will and disobedience they have toward God. You can feel an admiration for Adam before his fall but the admiration is short lived. We seem not to be able to relate to them because of the fact that they are perfect imagine from god himself. The fear we can concluded from there downfall is that they tried to know everything and perhaps be god like themselves. The warnings from Raphael in Books V and VI increase the intensity of man’s impending doom that will soon to be a reality. The significant part of this is that we have to feel like they can sin themselves before we can relate to the characters that Milton put in
In John Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, the author establishes Satan as the most complex and thought-provoking character in the tale through his depiction of Satan’s competing desires. Throughout the first four books of Paradise Lost, Satan repeatedly reveals his yearning both for recognition from God and, simultaneously, independence from God. The paradox that prevents Satan from achieving his desires may be interpreted as a suggestion of Milton’s establishment of a sympathetic reading for this character, as he cannot truly find happiness. In actuality, the construction of Satan’s rivaling aspirations evince Satan’s repulsive depravity to Milton’s audience and encourage readers to condemn his character.
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.
The question of whether Satan is the hero or the villain of John Milton’s Paradise Lost has been largely debated by scholars over the centuries. The ones who believe Satan is the villain of the epic, more commonly known as the Anti-Satanists, tend to argue that Satan is too foolish to be considered a hero, as his “hostility to Almighty power” is ultimately a futile endeavour (as God’s power is omnipotent) (Carey, 135). C.W. Lewis, also an anti-Satanist, goes as far as to claim that to “admire Satan, then, is to give one’s vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking” (Lewis, 203). The ones who claim Satan is the hero of the epic, the Satanists, perceive him as the rebellious angel who rises up and defies God’s monarchy and “the tyranny of Heav’n” (174).They choose to focus on Satan’s “nobler qualities, his loyalty in leadership, fortitude in adversity, unflinching courage and splendid recklessness” (Satan/Promo, 3). While these two positions are both valid, this paper will be focusing on a third position; the individuals who believe that Satan is neither the hero nor the villain of the epic. Helen Gardner addresses this notion, claiming how “Satan is, of course, a character in an epic, and he is no sense the hero of the epic as a whole. But he is a figure of heroic magnitude and heroic energy, and he is developed by Milton with dramatic emphasis and dramatic intensity” (Baker/Helen, 208). Satan is without a doubt the antichrist, or “villain” in the biblical scriptures, however one must take into consideration his alternative and more ambiguous portrayal in Paradise Lost. In this paper, I will analyze Satan’s actions, physical portrayal and speeches in Book I of Paradise Los...
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.
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. G-d is holy and perfect. This is something which we, being fallible humans, cannot begin to comprehend. Satan does, at the beginning, follow many of the attributes which coincide with Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero; however, after the first few Books, Satan looses his status as a tragic hero rather rapidly. Along with this, Satan's thoughts parallel the idea of "Evil, be thou my good," (p76, line 110) which is the opposite of what G-d intends.
Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton uses various tools of the epic to convey a traditional and very popular Biblical story. He adds his own touches to make it more of an epic and to set forth new insights into God's ways and the temptations we all face. Through his uses of love, war, heroism, and allusion, Milton crafted an epic; through his references to the Bible and his selection of Christ as the hero, he set forth a beautifully religious Renaissance work. He masterfully combined these two techniques to create a beautiful story capable of withstanding the test of time and touching its readers for centuries.
Paradise Lost is one of the finest examples of the epic tradition in all of literature. In composing this extraordinary work, John Milton was, for the most part, following in the manner of epic poets of past centuries: Barbara Lewalski notes that Paradise Lost is an "epic whose closest structural affinities are to Virgil's Aeneid . . . "; she continues, however, to state that we now recognize as well the influence of epic traditions and the presence of epic features other than Virgilian. Among the poem's Homeric elements are its Iliadic subject, the death and woe resulting from an act of disobedience; the portrayal of Satan as an Archillean hero motivated by a sense of injured merit and also as an Odyssean hero of wiles and craft; the description of Satan's perilous Odyssey to find a new homeland; and the battle scenes in heaven. . . . The poem also incorporates a Hesiodic gigantomachy; numerous Ovidian metamorphoses; an Ariostan Paradise of Fools; [and] Spenserian allegorical figures (Sin and Death) . . . . (3)