Essay about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Milton’s Satan of Paradise Lost

Essay about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Milton’s Satan of Paradise Lost

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Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Milton’s Satan of Paradise Lost bear many similarities to each other. Both characters possess diabolical ambitions to overthrow the natural order of their circumstances for the lust for power. Both committed atrocious acts that led to others’ downfalls-Macbeth committed multiple acts of murder, and Satan vowed to corrupt humankind and did so with deceit. Both are portrayed as complex characters with, in some cases, conflicted feelings about their evil doings. Aside from these similarities, there are significant differences as well. For one thing, the incitation of both characters’ evil doings differ. Macbeth, it could be argued, is a victim of fate, whereas Satan is portrayed in Paradise Lost as very willful in his rebellion. While Macbeth and Satan are similar in their ambitions, their lust for power, and their conflicted emotions, they differ greatly in what initially led them to their evil paths and pushed them on to their ultimate destruction.

Macbeth, who at the beginning of his play’s plot is in a position of some honor and power, obtains position as king of Scotland through secretive foul play, spurred on by some external manipulation as well as personal ambition. “Macbeth’s ambition is unchecked by both moral and legal considerations-he will stop at nothing to get what he desires… Macbeth’s unbridled ambition is the root of the play’s evil because he is willing to throw the world into chaos in order to satisfy his personal desires.” (Thrasher, 92). His rebellion is heinous, but so long undiscovered. His ambition, though present in some degree from the beginning, metastasizes within him through the play as more obstacles to his retention of royal status crop up. “He begins well…but this...

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The characters Macbeth and Satan both share a number of qualities with each other. Both portray the corrupting influence of power, or the want of it. Both possess inordinate ambitions. Despite these similarities, however, the disparities between the two of them, in the conception of their evil, are apparent.

Works Cited

Danielson, Dennis- ed. The Cambridge Companion to Milton New York, Cambridge University Press 1989.

Loewenstein, David A Student Guide: Milton-Paradise Lost, 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press, 1993, Second Edition 2004.

Thrasher, Thomas E. Understanding Great Literature: Understanding Macbeth Lucent Books, 10911 Technology Place, San Diego, CA 92127, 2002.

Tucker, Martin- ed. Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism… Vol. I- The Beginnings to the Seventeenth Century New York, Frederick Publishing Co. 1966:

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