The Significance of Satan as the Leader of Hell

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In the epic, Paradise Lost, John Milton draws from the book of Genesis in the Bible to not only convey the fall of man, but also to present his views on many controversial issues. To

best present his beliefs, Milton utilizes characters from Genesis to draw comparisons between

real-life issues and the well-known story of Adam and Eve. One of the ways that Milton seeks to

express his opposition to the monarchy in England is through the use of Satan as the leader of

what Milton establishes as a sort of democracy in Hell. Furthermore, Milton clearly distinguishes

how Satan, as the leader of the perceived democracy in Hell, not only parallels the Puritan

diversion from the Church in England, but also provokes a discussion of what constitutes free

will. In order for one to best understand the significance of Satan as the leader of Hell, however,

it is necessary for one to first consider and analyze both Milton’s personal views as they relate to

the political climate in England in the 1600’s and how Milton establishes governance in Paradise

Lost, before considering why and how Satan becomes the leader of Hell.

To best understand the significance of Satan as the leader of Hell, it is necessary to first

evaluate Milton’s background and personal views, especially as they relate to the political

conflict in England in the 1600’s. Milton was born on December 9, 1608, and went to college to

become a priest for the Church of England; however, Milton did not end up becoming a priest

(Flannagan 13 and Dickson). Instead, Milton chose to abandon the Church of England to

become a Puritan because he opposed monarchy, which was dynamically linked with the Church

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of England (Flannagan 2 and Dickson). Milton believed in a rule ...

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...ithin his

epic. By considering how the political climate in England shaped Milton’s views on these issues,

as well as understanding why Milton chose to create a monarchy in Heaven and a dictatorship

disguised as a democracy in Hell, one can best understand why and how Satan becomes the

leader of Hell. Because Milton believed that tyranny was created with the Fall, one can only seek

to explore these other issues by understanding how Satan is the crux of not only Paradise Lost,

but also the fall of all mankind.

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Works Cited

Dickson, Dr. Donald. Multiple Lectures on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Texas A&M

University. College Station, TX. January-March 2014.

Flannagan, Roy. The Riverside Milton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.

Milton, John. "Paradise Lost." The Riverside Milton. Ed. Roy Flannagan. Boston: Houghton

Mifflin, 1998. 354-710. Print.

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