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The Role Of Satans Competing Desires In John Milton's Paradise Lost

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Satan’s Competing Desires in Paradise Lost 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.…show more content…
Satan frequently characterizes “the tyranny of heaven” and employs negative diction in his depictions of both heaven and God (I.124). His negative portrayals of God and his kingdom highlight his utter dissatisfaction with being subservient to God and, from that, his desire for autonomy. In the exposition of the text, Satan’s emotions toward God make themselves apparent when Satan “throws his baleful eyes / That witnessed huge affliction and dismay / Mixed with obdúrate pride and steadfast hate” (I.56-58). Satan reveals himself to be furious with his continued subjugation to God as well as his inability to truly revenge himself against his subsequent punishment. According to Satan, God’s dissimulation of his power tempted Satan and others to rise…show more content…
The diction Satan employs in this sentence also illuminates his intense perturbation at the thought of acknowledging God as superior. Words such as “wrath or might”, “extort”, “bow and sue for grace”, and “terror of this arm” depict God as an overbearing tyrant (I.110-113). This conveys Satan’s despondency with God’s failure to reciprocally acknowledge Satan as God demands to be glorified. Although Satan can never reconcile his two rivaling desires, his attempts for autonomy and recognition from God result in catastrophic circumstances, both for Satan and humanity. As previously established, Satan travels to Eden in order to tempt mankind. In order to do this, Satan persuades Sin and Death to allow him to pass through Hell’s gate. The immediate result of this is that Satan also releases Sin and Death who paved a path:
From hell continued reaching the utmost orb
Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse
With easy intercourse pass to and
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