Satan in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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Who is Satan?

Satan’s definitions include the advocate of God, a personification of evil, the fallen angel, a spirit created by God, and also the accuser. People see Satan differently, some know of his existence, others think of him as just a myth, and there are those that just ignore him. John Milton's Paradise Lost tells of Satan's banishment from Heaven and his gain of earth. He and his brigade have plotted war against God and are now doomed to billow in the fiery pits of hell. Satan is a complex character with many different qualities. God is a character who we, as Christians, know about but do not completely understand. We also do not completely understand Satan. Some may think they know Satan but when asked “Is Satan divine?” they hesitate. I admit that this is a very tough question to answer but it is just one of the ways that we understand Satan. The tools we have to understand Satan are mainly the just Bible and our questions, but some use John Milton’s Paradise Lost. There are some who think we should not use Paradise Lost as a tool because it is just a fictional book. 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. Satan an...

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...ological story. We have books like the “Left Behind” series and some of us treat them like they are describing what is going to happen. In the book Wrestling with Dark Angels Satan is described as “a supernatural being, although limited in power yet still greatly effective in fulfilling his malicious purpose, at least for a time. Because he is limited in power he has to rely upon clever delusion and allusion” (117). Satan will never be in charge of us as long as we never let him in. If we let him in we will see the allusion and will love it like he does. Finally, Satan interests many critics, who ask many questions. Many of the questions are unanswerable since we do not have access to Satan’s mind, let alones Milton mind. The Satan in Paradise Lost is a product of Milton. His character will continue to fascinate and confuse us all for many more generations.
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