Miltons Satan | English Literature Dissertations


  • 1 The analysis of miltons satan in view of classical epic traditions
  • 2 1 Statement of the problem
  • 3 2 Introduction
  • 4 3 Review of the literature
  • 5 4 Research methodology
  • 6 5 Discussion
  • 7 5.1. Milton’s Satan as a non-traditional epic hero
  • 8 6 Conclusions
  • 9 7 Suggestions for further research
  • 10 Endnotes
  • 11 Bibliography

The analysis of miltons satan in view of classical epic traditions

This dissertation investigates in depth the issue of whether Milton’s Satan from the poem Paradise Lost can be considered a classical epic hero. The research makes a major emphasis on the classical world context, uncovering the poet’s vision and comparing Satan with Achilles from Homer’s epic Iliad.

The received results show that, despite the fact that Milton utilises some classical allusions in regard to the figure of Satan, he changes these conventions by implementing his own historical vision and religious beliefs. Some findings of the dissertation are consistent with the previous researches on Milton’s Paradise Lost, but other findings provide opposite results with certain valid data.

1 Statement of the problem

The figure of Satan from John Milton’s epic work Paradise Lost is rather controversial. Contrary to Satan from the Bible, this character possesses an ambiguous nature that continues to raise hot debates among scholars as to the interpretation of Milton’s Satan. Some researchers maintain the idea that Satan is a classical epic hero that can be compared with Homer’s Achilles, while other scholars consider this character as a non-traditional hero. The third group of researchers refuses to define Satan as a hero, pointing out that this character Isa simple negation of Creator. Overall, rising against oppression and God, Satan reflects a complex symbolic meaning that reveals Milton’s artistic viewpoint. In this regard, the researchers’ interpretation of Paradise Lost is mainly based on two contradictory visions: orthodox and heterodox.

2 Introduction

Any epic poem is characterised by the representation of history and cultural traditions of particular civilisations, as well as by the investigation of crucial issues of existence. The classical epic poetry mainly created by the Greeks and Romans usually applies to the theme of heroism, producing unusual epic heroes, like Homer’s Achilles or Virgil’s Aeneas, that are further utilised in Renaissance literature. As Lefkowitz claims, “Whether we are aware of it or not, our perception of reality continues to be defined by the ‘Greek experience’.

The plots of myths recur even in contemporary writing, only with the names, dates, places changed”1. Other civilisations also invented their heroes, such as Gilgamesh of the Assyrians, Siegfried of the Germans and Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxons, – the characters that reflected certain heroic periods. However, some poets and writers find it difficult to accept such definition of heroism and create their own heroes that, on the one hand, contrast with the classical epic heroes, but, on the other hand, adhere to certain epic conventions. One of such characters is Milton’s Satan from the poem Paradise Lost.

On the example of this character Milton greatly changes the issue of heroism, contributing to the destruction of the older epic genre and the classical epic heroes, instead introducing a new epic form of portrayal. As a result of such changes, the epic is gradually transformed into an artificial genre, as Hainsworth puts it, “The exciting turmoil’s of three decades of revolution in criticism have left the classic texts much as they were: the canonical exemplars that continue to organize our Western concepts of literature”2.

The aim of this dissertation is two-fold: 1) to analyse the figure of Milton’s Satan with the emphasis on the classical world, and 2) to discuss the writer’s attempts to integrate the classical world with his own artistic vision. The paper is divided into several sections. Chapter 1 provides a statement of the problem that uncovers the core of the research. Chapter 2 observes the issue in general terms, applying to classical references.

Chapter 3 analyses those works and researches that have been written on Milton’s Satan. Chapter 4 mentions the research methods that are utilised for the analysis. Chapter 5 discusses in detail the issue of whether Satan can be regarded as a classical epic hero and can be compared with Homer’s Achilles. Chapter 6 provides a summarisation of the received findings, and Chapter 7 points at the limitations of the research and suggestions for further investigation.

3 Review of the literature

John Milton’s epic work Paradise Lost attracts attention of various researchers who are especially interested in the figure of Satan. Gerald J. Schiff horst analyses symbolism, through which Milton creates such characters as Satan. As he points out, “because Milton’s personified characters and events stand for moral, religious, or political ideas, he was able to combine classical and Christian elements”3. Abrams also supports the idea that in this poem Milton applies to pagan and Christian elements in the characters’ portrayal4,while Martindale makes stress on Christian components that influenced the figure of Satan 5.

Analysing Milton’s character, Northrop Frye claims, “What Satan himself manifests in Paradise Lost is the perverted quality of parody-heroism…Consequently it is to Satan and his followers that Milton assigns the conventional and Classical type of heroism"6. Thus, providing Satan with some heroic actions, Milton implicitly criticises God that rejects those who do not want to follow his rules. However, Shaw cross doesn’t regard Satan as a real hero; contrary to other critics of Milton’s poem, Shaw cross states that “In Satan we have the antithesis of heroic action although he appropriates the language of that action. [The Son]becomes the exemplary hero, or prototype hero, for all men”7.

In this regard, Francis C. Blessing ton goes further in his analysis of Milton’s Satan; in particular, the researcher points out that Satan is “the perversion of the classical heroic virtues… [He is] not a classical hero but a classical villain who heroically defeats creatures furbelow him in stature”8. Martin Mueller pays attention to the epic conventions in representing the figure of Satan; according to him, “because Satan is the idol, or hideous double of Christ, he necessarily acts within the conventions of the epic tradition”9.

Neil Forsyth claims that Milton reveals sympathy towards the figure of Satan, but the poet moves the narrator away from this character; thus Forsyth suggests that Paradise Lost should be interpreted from an unorthodox perspective10. In particular, the researcher points out that at the beginning of the poem Milton demonstrates heroic features of Satan, uncovering the character’s viewpoint, because Milton doesn’t consider Satan to be fully wretched.

By creating the figure of Satan and applying to Satan’s vision, Milton opposes to Christian orthodoxy from time to time and contributes to the ambiguity of narration. Forsyth considers Satan as a self-divided creature, a portrayal of “our modern and divided selves”11. Michael Bryson goes even further in his analysis; he regards God as a tyrannical evil, while Satan “seems heroic because he is heroic”12. Contrary to the claims of some critics, Bryson doesn’t support the notion that Satan is bad from the very beginning; instead the researcher states that “Satan’s moral advantages that he does not begin as a tyrant”13.

According to Bryson, the tragedy of Satan is not in his revolt against God, but in his deliberate or in deliberate inclination to follow the structure that he repelled at the beginning of the poem. Thus, Satan “rejects the Son as king, only to aspire to be a king himself –aspiring to be like God in the wrong way”14. Stanley Fish, one of the principal researchers of Milton’s Paradise Lost, considers that Satan can’t be blamed for people’s fall, rather he prefers to regard people for their failure15.

On the basis of the analysed literary works, it is clear that Milton’s poem has been widely researched, producing a variety of interpretations. However, each critical study is restricted to the investigation of certain aspects, thus it is necessary to analyse different contradictory viewpoints in order to receive accurate findings in regard to the figure of Satan.

4 Research methodology

This dissertation utilises two principal methods of investigation: a qualitative research method and a discourse analytical approach. The qualitative research method allows to analyse the discussed issue on the basis of various interpretations, generating new findings that haven’t been received in earlier studies and researches.

As Ricoeur points out, “interpretation… is the work of thought which consists in deciphering the hidden meaning in the apparent meaning, in unfolding the levels of meaning implied in the literal meaning”16. This particular method is based on specific qualitative data taken from various researches that reveal contradictory views on the analysed literary work.

The discourse analytical approach provides an opportunity to investigate the historical and social contexts that influenced Milton’s artistic vision, investigating different aspects of the narration. Applying this approach to the conducted research, the paper reveals the reasons for the controversial nature of Milton’s character and the poet’s difficulties in integrating the classical world with his own historical world. Both methods present certain theoretical tools to evaluate the discussed issue in depth and to analyse various interpretations.

5 Discussion

5.1. Milton’s Satan as a non-traditional epic hero

Every epic poem reflects a destroyed historic civilisation and the existing virtues through the principal characters of the narration. Milton’s Paradise Lost created after the complex political and social events also applies to certain conventions that are utilised in such epics as Homer’s Iliad. As Martin Mueller puts it, “Milton himself drew attention to the thematic affinities between the central actions of Paradise Lost and the Iliad, for in his poem he followed the Iliad more closely than any other epic”17. With the help of classical allusions the poet reinstates these conventions, but simultaneously he greatly changes them in order to reveal his own artistic vision and his acceptance or rejection of various aspects.

According to Kates, this is especially true in regard to one of the principal characters of Milton’s narration – Satan18. In general literary terms, Satan is presented as a character who is engaged in various intrigues in his courageous struggle against God. However, Satan is not a complete antagonist, but rather a figure that, to some extent, can be compared with a classical epic hero. As Ralph Condee points out, “I propose that Satan is not the hero of Paradise Lost, but that he is in a very significant way one of the heroes”19.

In this regard, Milton rejects a stereotypical representation of the hero that possesses only positive features. Milton’s Satan is portrayed as an opponent to the despotic power of God. The poet reveals the flaws of Satan, presenting him as a heroic and detestable character that can be admired for his struggle, but is supposed to finally lose because of his deeds. According to Schiff horst, “Milton defines heroism negatively by contrasting it with what it is not.

The very fact that Satan is given some traditional heroic attributes reveals Milton’s dissatisfaction with the heroic tradition of the epic”20. Milton’s vision of the hero contradicts the portrayal of a hero in classical literature, that is, his hero is someone who rises against any stereotype, religious dogma or established norms.

As Collet states, combining pagan epic elements with Christian traditions, the poet creates his own truth that is based on historicalpast21. Such unusual artistic viewpoint can be also explained by the social and historical context that shaped the way Milton presented Satan. Milton lived in the period, when England was involved in the severe political and religious struggle. On the one hand, the Anglicans made constant attempts to influence people of various religious beliefs and, on the other hand, English government utilised its power to implement certain laws that were not accepted by some members of society.

Milton supported any struggle against oppression, either religious or political. As Lowenstein claims, “Writing in the English Revolution and the Restoration, Milton places great emphasis… on the freedom and responsibility of human agents to choose”22. The figure of Satan reflects this particular viewpoint, expressing the necessity of free will. As Satan claims, “And what I should be, all but less than he/ Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least / We shall be free”23.

These words prove that God possesses divine power to prohibit any expression of free will, that’s why Satan opposes to this power. Contrary to a classical epic hero who is rather fictitious and unbelievable, Satan is a hero who, according to Hamilton, “wins our admiration the more firmly because he is intimately real, while the inhabitants of Heaven are remote and strange”24. This is only one side of Satan’s character; however, he possesses many other contradictory features.

As the narration progresses, Satan appears to reveal certain heroism that, to some extent, reflects the classical understanding of heroic actions. In particular, Hamilton states that “Satan’s heroic qualities are enhanced by this strain of something approaching tenderness in his character… His courage and will-power are not the expression of nature irrevocably hardened or incapable of gentle emotion”25.

Thus, Milton makes an attempt to distinguish real heroism from the classical representation of heroism, depriving a classical epic hero of its heathen nature and providing him with new features. According to Lowenstein, “virtue for Milton cannot simply be taken for granted, but must be continually tested”26.

Satan is presented through specific epic similes that allow the poet to intensify the figure of Satan and reveal his epic characteristics, comparing Satan with the Son who appears less heroic. In this regard, heroism of Achilles from Homer’s Iliad contradicts Milton’s understanding of heroism, because Achilles’ heroic actions are inspired by the hero’s rage and wish to take revenge.

According to Michael Silk, Achilles embodies the heroic ideal of Greek people; he is the principal epic hero that shapes the portrayal and understanding of classicalheroism27. However, drawing a parallel between Satan and Achilles, Milton can’t accept Achilles’ heroism without reserve; instead he expresses his own vision on the example of Satan and regards the epic poems as “spasms of a dying tradition”28.

Achilles who is usually called as ‘the man breaker’ applies to heroic actions to perform his duty, but the hero’s rage results in many negative consequences. Achilles’ heroism doesn’t go beyond the fortune assigned by Gods, as he claims at the end of the epic narration, “Such is the way the gods spun life for unfortunate mortals, that we live in unhappiness, but the gods themselves have no sorrows”29.

Contrary to Achilles, Satan resorts to various tricks in his struggle against God, but he explicitly reveals his attitude towards God, challenging and criticising his power. Achilles’ heroism brings death and havoc, while Satan wants to provide people with freedom and understanding. As Mueller points out, “The comparison with Achilles reveals the formal elements of tragedy… but in a Christian context the experience of tragic recognition undergoes a radical transformation”30.For Milton, Satan is better than Achilles or other classical epic heroes, because Satan not only acquires his heroism after his failure, but he also refuses to accept his predetermined destiny.

Satan is better than angels, because the latter possess no will power and freedom; they are mere instruments in the hands of God, while Satan has necessary power to oppose God and everything that threatens his independence. As Satan claims, “Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice, / To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell”31. Throughout the narration Satan is engaged in heroic search that ends tragically for Satan and other creatures of hell.

Although some critics do not consider Satan as a hero, Milton reveals that he possesses many heroic features. Satan leaves hell and jeopardises his life to find the truth, to prove his freedom. He makes an attempt to create another world that will be different from the world created by God, but he fails, because he doesn’t possess enough power for such action.

Thus, Milton doesn’t fully reject the classical epic elements, but as Lowenstein puts it, “Rather than involving full-scale rejection of classical forms and themes… his poems tend to involve revisionary transformations of them, infusing these earlier forms with new prophetic Christian meaning”32. In the character of Satan, Milton embodies those features that he considers crucial for aero, such as strength, independence, brightness and wisdom. Satan reveals all these characteristics and rises in opposition to God, initiating a rebellion.

According to Danielson, “heroic values have been profoundly transvalued in Paradise Lost”33. But despite the unique interpretation of heroism, only such powerful and clever creature as Satan is able to make others follow him. Satan’s speeches are similar to the speeches of a revolutionary who struggles against any despotic power. The discourse analytical approach suggests that such speeches allow to analyse the character of the narration and his relations with other creatures34. As Quint puts it, “these voices of resistance receive a hearing, as the epic poem acknowledges, intermittently, alternative accounts vying with its own official version of history”35.

However, Satan’s negative features contribute to his failure, transforming him into a tragic hero. According to classical traditions, a tragic hero is someone who possesses certain flaws that result in the character’s ruin. This is just the case with Satan who reveals pride and jealousy, but can also evoke powerful emotions. As Silk puts it, “Satan’s ‘revenge’ and ‘pride’ recall Homer’s Apollo and also his Achilles; he is ‘cast out from heaven” as Virgil’s Aeneas was fromTroy”36.

Milton calls Satan “the proud/Aspirer”37, stressing on the ambiguous nature of Satan and revealing his heroic features. When Satan together with other fallen angels is driven away from heaven, he manages to take a full control over the situation and create Pandemonium.

Satan doesn’t want to accept his defeat and appears as a leader for his followers, convincing them in their triumph. On the other hand, he provides angels with a chance to express their opinion as to the struggle against God. Satan’s courage is especially obvious when he decides to personally perform the task of seducing Adam and Eve. In this regard, Satan’s heroic actions are constantly intensified by Milton, as well as Satan’s despair. In his talks with himself Satan uncovers his inner suffering and misery.

Presenting a heroic figure of Satan at the beginning of the poem, Milton provides his readers with an opportunity to understand Satan’s viewpoints and feelings. As Dennis Danielson puts it, “The fallen Satan is, we gather, a creature of moods, apprehending reality through mists of self-deception andforgetfulness”38. Satan is not an ideal character, like such classical epic heroes as Homer’s Achilles, but this doesn’t prevent him from revealing certain heroic features. Satan is an ambiguous hero with divided self that makes him turn to evil, but Satan’s powerful speeches, courage and a direct opposition to the power of God reveal his heroism. Danielson claims that “the epic question and answer present Satan and hell in heroic terms, with reference to a range of epic passions, motives, and actions”39.

Although some researchers do not regard Satan as an epic hero, many famous writers and poets, such as Burns, Shelley, Blake, Baudelaire and Godwin supported the idea that Satan was one of the principal heroes of Milton’s Paradise Lost. In particular, they appreciated his freedom and power, his resistance and courage; for them, Satan was a creature that couldn’t accept any inequality, thus he decided to oppose it.

For instance, William Godwin claims, “Why did Satan rebel against his maker? It was, as he himself informs us, because he saw no sufficient reason for that extreme inequality of rank and power which the creatorassumed”40. The controversy in presenting the figure of Satan can be explained by the fact that Milton rejects any stereotypic or traditional notions, providing his own interpretation of various religious and classical issues.

As Quint claims, “Milton famously bids farewell to the traditional epic of war… Instead, he moves the story to a private realm that is at once the figure of the inner, spiritual heroism of Christian fortitude and of a domestic sphere”41. In this regard, Satan appears as a hero that realises his damnation, but he doesn’t want to passively accept it. He considers that he is right in his struggle against the power of God, and this confidence in his own truth is really crucial for John Milton.

Satan inspires great passions that reflect the essence of political and religious life of that period. It is through this character that the poet reveals a close connection between people and the occurred events, between people’s virtues and cultural traditions. The character of Achilles reflects the Greek ideals on virtues and appropriate behaviour, but Achilles himself doesn’t always conform to these particular ideals. However, Satan, due to his ambiguity, embodies contradictory ideals of different cultural, historical and religious origins, generating new interpretations. Applying to qualitative research method, Taylor claims that “interpretation… is an attempt to make clear, to make sense of an object of study. This object must, therefore, be a text, or a text-analogue, which in some way is confused, incomplete, cloudy, seemingly contradictory – in one way or another, unclear”42.

The poet’s similes in regard to Satan do not produce a single interpretation, but instead create a variety of different meanings for understanding of this character. For instance, Satan is compared with wolf, a thief, a pharaoh, but these are only some images of this hero that he reveals from time to time. However, it is difficult to recognise the whole reflection of Satan, because he acts differently in various situations and presents different images.

This can be explained by the fact that, contrary to classical epic poets that made attempts to create history through their narratives, Milton utilises some historical fragments with novel representation, interpreting classical elements from different perspectives. As Mueller states, such approach allows John Milton to produce a completely new epic within the older epic, profoundly contributing to the ambiguity of the narration, in general, and the principal characters, in particular43.

According to the social constructionist approach, appropriate understanding of certain cultural traditions can be obtained from the history of the whole civilisation that is reflected in some heroic individuals. Milton is well aware of Greek history that is shown in classical epics, but he finds it impossible to fully integrate the created classical world in his own narration. A classical epic poem reveals certain beliefs, ideologies and morality; David Quint goes further by dividing the genre of epic on the epics of losers and the epics of winners.

The researcher claims that Homer’s Iliad belongs tithe epics of winners, as Achilles manages to receive a victory, while Milton’s Paradise Lost falls under the epics of losers due to Satan’s failure. But further in the analysis Quint points out that Milton overcomes this general division and forms a new kind of epic genre with rather contradictory character of Satan44. As William Porter states, in the epic poem Iliad Achilles is presented as a powerful hero who reflects some cultural values of Greek civilisation and who protects his people, but he also pursues his own interests in this struggle, although this fact is only implicitly revealed in the narration45.Satan is a more complex figure that doesn’t conceal his intentions. Achilles appears to be too ideal and thus, unreal, while Satan, with his positive and negative features, is more genuine and is able to arouse sympathy and understanding.

As one hero is a winner and another hero is a loser, they seem to show different notions and ideals; in the case of Achilles, his heroism reflects subjugation and the preservation of old traditions and values, while Satan struggles for survival and appropriate changes. As Milton supports the ideals of struggle against any despotic power, he implements these ideals in his ambiguous character. Though he values some classical traditions, he strives for changes that became crucial in the world he lived. Contrary to Achilles who tries to preserve his civilisation, Satan rises against despotism that Milton embodies in the figure of God who is “our grand Foe, / Who now triumphs, and in th’excess of joy / Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav’n”46. Achilles won’t dare struggle against gods, because he understands that this is avian fight.

But Satan rises against God, realising that he will be cruelly punished in the case of his defeat. According to Blessing ton, Satan struggles for his own freedom, as well as freedom of other fallenangels47. As Satan claims, “I come no enemy, but to set free / From outhits dark and dismal house of pain”48. Thus, Satan is not only a wise and powerful leader, but he also possesses some human emotions that allow readers to better understand this character. His tragedy as an epic hero is explained by Satan’s inability to understand reality and accept those values that are assigned to him.

As a result, Satan says, “So Farwell Hope, and with Hope farwel Fear, / Farwel Remorse: all Good to me is lost; / Evil be thou my Good”49. Satan prefers to live in an invented world with his own values and principles that substitute real-life, and this world greatly depends on hate that weakens him and results in his defeat. Satan constantly puts crucial questions, and his inner doubts reveal his intelligence and deep emotions, being unable to passively accept the established moral norms: “What though the field be lost? All is not lost; the unconquerable will… / and courage never to submit or yield… / that glory never shall his wrath or might extort from me”50.

However, throughout the narration Satan’s power is replaced by great despair, the emotion that demonstrates that the hero is not void of normal feelings and that he is rather vulnerable. A creature that experiences such powerful emotions is not completely evil; rather he appears to be thrown into evil by some really strong force, like God. Satan fails to realise that God utilises him for his own purpose, but this manipulation reveals Satan’s heroic nature, contrasting him to God. And though God cruelly punishes Satan and other fallen angels, Milton reveals that heroic values are inseparable from the struggle initiated by Satan.

Whatever are the reasons for this particular fight, it is through the struggle that Satan manages to acquire some important features and openly rise against the Creator. In this regard, Milton moves away from many epic conventions, but those conventions that the poet utilises reflect much irony. As Mueller states, Milton “did not…use epic conventions in the spirit of the faithful imitator, but housed them with the ironic consciousness of their conventionality”51.

For Milton, utilisation of epic conventions provides the whole narration and the characters with many limitations that the poet tries to overcome in Paradise Lost. According to Mueller, Milton’s poem “reveals the inadequacy of epic perfection to serve even as the image of a higher perfection, and this inadequacy is further underscored in the quite unpick account of the Creation”52. On the example of Satan, the poet uncovers the impact of these epic conventions on the character and his heroism, showing how Satan is restricted by these traditions.

Therefore, Milton changes not only epic values, but also the epic representation of the principal characters, although, according to Miller, a real epic hero should possess such important features as military virtues and lethal risk53. Despite the fact that Satan doesn’t confirm to these classical virtues, his challenge to God transforms him into a character, because he rises against reality and the established order. As he denies the supreme power, he acquires inner strength that is reflected in his physical image: “Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool / His mighty stature”54.

Such portrayal of Satan is further intensified by the classical conventions that allow Milton to compare Satan with some epic heroes. This grand fallen angel possesses ancient armour that puts him into achieve position over other angels: “his ponderous shield / ethereal temper, massy, large and round. / Behind him cast; the broad circumference / Hung on his shoulders like the moon”55. Satan is close to his fellows and experiences the same pain, making a courageous attempt to improve their conditions. In this regard, Satan reminds such classical heroes as Beowulf, Titan, Achilles and other characters that oppose Greek gods; however, Milton doesn’t identify Satan with these heroes.

Contrary to some classical heroes, Satan arouses respect in fallen angels; Satan’s powerful speeches persuade his fellows in the necessity of struggle. As Satan claims, “Princes, Potentates, /Warriors, the flower of heaven, once yours, now lost… / Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n”56. Satan appears as a great commander, similar to Caesar, Hannibal or Alexander. Milton reveals that one of the principal features of a real hero is a powerful spirit that allows aero to overcome complexities and misfortunes.

Satan, despite his negative traits, preserves his potent spirit till the very end. He rises against the supreme creature, understanding that there is little hope to conquer him, but being unable to stand aside. Although the traditional representation of Satan reveals him as a dastard, Milton’s Satan rejects this portrayal. When he decides to perform the mission by himself, he shows real heroism, passing through Chaos and finally appearing in Eden. It is obvious that a part of this motive is explained by his wish to achieve recognition and power over others; however, the difficulties of his journey outweigh his initial incentive.

According to Bryson, “Satan more closely resembles a character from Greek drama or Homeric epic than one from the Bible”57.Satan understands that he will face dangers during his trip, but nothing can stop him in his pursuit of the crucial goal. As William Ker puts it, “heroic poetry implies an heroic age, an age of pride and courage, in which there is not any extreme organization of politics to hinder the individual talent and achievements, nor on the other hand too much isolation of the hero”58. The classical epic represents a heroes a defender of people, a character that possesses deity, fortitude and spirit.

Throughout the narration Satan reveals some of these features, although his actions are usually dishonest.
As Satan rises against the established values, God starts to consider him as an evil; but, perhaps, it is God himself, not Satan, that can be blamed for this evil in a fallen angel. In this regard, Satan appears as the forerunner of a romantic hero that is portrayed as a villain who destroys the established moral norms and defends new codes of behaviour. But such hero is still appreciated for his courage and ideals.

Similar to a romantic hero, Satan reveals many images on the surface, but deep inside he suffers, like any human being, and he is able to evoke awe and admiration. Although Satan turns to evil and utilizes the wrong ways to achieve his principal goal, he remains aero with valuable virtues and powerful spirit. Satan continues to struggle, even when he realises that his attempts are vain. This hero destroys his past, feeling despair and destruction and creating his reality: “Me miserable! Which way shall I fly / Infinite wrath, and infinite despair? / Which way I fly is Hell; myself am hell”59.

On the one hand, Satan, like a classical hero, yearns for his previous life, while, on the other hand, he believes in the necessity of his struggle against God. Thus, according to Charles Grosvenor Osgood, ancient mythology plays an important part in Milton’s narration, although the poet presents his vision in unusual and contradictoryways60. Satan as a hero emerges, as the poem progresses; Milton doesn’t explicitly point at Satan’s heroic features, but he gradually uncovers them, presenting different sides of Satan.

6 Conclusions

Analysing Milton’s character, the received findings suggest that Satan can’t be fully considered as a classical epic hero, especially in his comparison with such heroes as Achilles. In his poem Milton redefines the idea of heroism, finding it hard to integrate the classical world with his own historical vision. Despite the fact that Milton implements some classical elements into his poem, he changes these components, as he combines them with the orthodox meaning and historical context.

The poet rises against the stereotypic representation of a hero, supporting the notion that a real hero is someone who struggles for freedom and destroys the established standards or despotic power. Applying to the discourse analytical approach and the qualitative research method, the paper analyses the figure of Satan and Milton’s unusual artistic vision through historical, political and religious contexts. Interpreting Satan from different angles, the research uncovers the ambiguity of the character and his contrast with a classical epic hero. As Satan fails at the end of the narration, he appears to be a tragic hero that still reveals much strength and freedom.

Thus, Milton utilises some epic conventions in Paradise Lost, such as the utilisation of supernatural elements, the epic journey of the principal character, the application of profound epic similes and the struggle against some power; however, he implements his own historical view that reflects his beliefs and ideals. From this point on, Satan is created as a creature with certain values and goodness, but who further turns to evil.

In this regard, the research rejects some previous findings and conventional interpretations on Milton’s Satan, focusing on ambiguous representation of this character. Drawing upon various sources of analysis, the paper reveals that Milton maintains the classical epic traditions, considering them to be essential for the creation of an epic genre, but his narration moves beyond these conventions.

Milton’s Satan demonstrates contradictory images throughout the poem, uncovering his strength and resistance, oppression and spirit, as well as pride and rejection of reality. Although Milton seems to follow the orthodox principles in his narration, he constantly departs from these ideals in his portrayal of Satan. Therefore, Milton’s Paradise Lost is both classical and orthodox epic, despite the fact that the latter aspect is usually challenged by the poet himself.

7 Suggestions for further research

Although the conducted research has provided important findings for better understanding of Milton’s Satan, it has some limitations. Above all, Satan is mainly compared with Homer’s Achilles as one of the most famous classical epic heroes, thus further research may be aimed at comparing Satan with other classical heroes, like Virgil’s Aeneas. Such investigation will provide valid data due to the fact that there is ascertain difference between Greek and Roman epics, especially in regard to their representation of the principal characters and virtues.

In addition, it is crucial to broaden the analysis by comparing Milton’s Satan with some modern heroes, like the heroes of T.S. Eliot, Thomas Mann, Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway. But such research requires prior investigation of appropriate research methods and theoretical implications. As Burckhardt points out, “strenuous effort at this stage is precisely the wrong way to achieve the desired result; an attentive ear and a steady pace of work will succeed better”61.Therefore a combination of different methods and a profound analysis of various aspects are able to provide successful findings towards the investigation of Milton’s poem Paradise Lost.


1. M. Lefkowitz, Heroines & Hysterics (New York: S.T. Martins Press, 1981), p.41.
2. J.B. Hainsworth, The Idea of Epic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. vii.
3. Gerald J. Schiff horst, John Milton (New York: Continuum, 1990), p.70.
4. M. H. Abrams, ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature (6th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1993), p.1075.
5. Charles Martindale, John Milton and the Transformation of Ancient Epic (London: Croom Helm, 1986), p.20.
6. Northrop Frye, The Story of All Things, in Paradise Lost. By John Milton, ed. Scott Elledge (New York: Norton, 1993), p.521.
7. John T. Shaw cross, The Hero of Paradise Lost One More Time, inMilton and the Art of Sacred Song, eds. Patrick, J. Max, and Roger H.Sundell (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), p.143.
8. Francis C Blessing ton, Paradise Lost and the Classical Epic (Boston: Routledge & K. Paul, 1979), p.18.
9. Martin Mueller, Children of Oedipus, and Other Essays on theImitation of Greek tragedy, 1550-1800 (Buffalo: University of TorontoPress, 1980), p.246.
10. Neil Forsyth, The Satanic Epic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp.11-17.
11. Forsyth, p.152.
12. Michael Bryson, The Tyranny of Heaven: Milton’s Rejection of God asKing (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), p. 83.
13. Bryson, p.82.
14. Bryson, p.111.
15. Stanley Fish, Surprised By Sin (London: Macmillan, 1997), pp.115-132.
16. P. Ricoeur, The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. xiv.
17. Mueller, p.214.
18. J. A. Kates, “Revaluation of the Classical Hero in Tasso andMilton”, Comparative Literature 26 (1974), pp.229-316 (pp.300-303).
19. Ralph Waterbury Condee, Structure in Milton’s Poetry: FromFoundation to the Principles (University Park: Penn State UniversityPress, 1974), p.7.
20. Schiff horst, p.70.
21. J. H. Collet, “Milton’s use of classical mythology in Paradise Lost”, PMLA 85 (1970), pp.88-96 (pp.90-93).
22. D. Lowenstein, Milton: Paradise Lost (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p.14-15.
23. John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Roy Flannagan (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1993) Book I, 257-259.
24. G. Rostrevor Hamilton, Hero or Fool: A Study of Milton’s Satan (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1944), p.39.
25. Hamilton, p.25.
26. Lowenstein, p.14.
27. Michael Silk, Homer. The Iliad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2004), pp. 80-87.
28. Hainsworth, p.45.
29. Homer, The Illiad, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), 24.525-26.
30. Mueller, Children of Oedipus, p.235.
31. Milton, Book 1 261-262.
32. Lowenstein, p.11.
33. Dennis Danielson, The Cambridge Companion to Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1999), p.114.
34. R. Fowler, Hodge, B., Kress, G., & Trew, T., Language andControl (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), pp. 23-30.
35. David Quint, Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgilto Milton. Literature in History (Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress, 1993), p.99.
36. Silk, p.98.
37. Milton, Book IV 89-90.
38. Danielson, p.166.
39. Danielson, p.118.
40. William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, ed. I. Kramnick (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), p. 309.
41. Quint, p.282.
42. C. Taylor, Hermeneutics and Politics, in Critical Sociology,Selected Readings, ed. P. Connerton (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd,1976), pp.153.
43. M. Mueller, “Paradise Lost and the Iliad’, Comparative Literature Studies 6 (1969), pp.292-316 (pp.300-303).
44. Quint, p.340.
45. William M. Porter, Reading the Classics and Paradise Lost (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), pp. 37-45.
46. Milton, Book I. 122-124.
47. F. Blessing ton, "Paradise Lost and the Apotheosis of theSuppliant", Arion: A Journal of the Humanities and Classics, 6, 2 (Fall1998), pp.83-97 (pp.85-87).
48. Milton, Book 2 822-823.
49. Milton, Book IV, 109-111.
50. Milton, Book 1, 105-111.
51. Mueller, Children of Oedipus, p.247.
52. Mueller, Children of Oedipus, p.248.
53. Dean A. Miller, The Epic Hero (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp.10-13.
54. Milton, Book 1, 221-222.
55. Milton, Book 1, 284-287.
56. Milton, Book 1, 315-330.
57. Bryson, p.80.
58. William Paton Ker, Epic and Romances: Essays on Medieval Literature (London: MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1931), pp.20-21.
59. Milton, Book 4, 73-75.
60. Charles Grosvenor Osgood, The Classical mythology of Milton’s English poems (New York: Gordian Press, 1964), pp.73-80.
61. J. Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization (St. Martin’s Press, 1996), p.6.


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The golden compass and paradise lost

The Golden Compass is the first book in a trilogy series called His Dark Materials, written by Philip Pullman. The author was influenced by the title, His Dark Materials from another famous piece of work. That title is written in John Milton’s 17th century poem, Paradise Lost.

In Pullman’s book, he tries to raise many of the same issues in Milton’s poem, such as free will versus destiny and the nature of good and evil in a different perspective. The characters in The Golden Compass reflect certain characters and concepts in Paradise Lost. The character Lyra is a reflection Eve, Ms. Coulter is the female version of Satan, Lord Asriel resembles Adam, and the particle dust reflects the forbidden fruit. In both stories, the characters display betrayal, love, or hate in their relationships. There are also the concepts of the loss of innocence, gaining the knowledge of evil, temptation, and fate. I will analyze both books separately and then together.

Paradise Lost is a fiction poem about the first fallout in heaven, the creation of mankind, using free will wisely, and original sin. In this novel we are introduced to the main characters, The Father (God), The Son, Adam, Eve, and Satan. The events take place in the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. The Father does not live in Paradise but he watches what occurs there from heaven. Satan is the first person to be condemned by God, he is banished from heaven into hell where he proclaims an eternal war against God and begins corrupting the world. Adam was the first human created by God. Eve is Adam’s wife, who was literally created from one of the ribs in Adams body. One day Adam and Eve get into a dispute which cause them to separate. Adam disagrees with that idea because Satan could attack them separately but not together. Eve believes Adam is distrusting God by thinking that she cannot defeat Satan alone. When Eve wanders off she meets Satan, who was disguised as a talking serpent. The serpent told her about the food of God which turned out to be the forbidden fruit. He easily used a few compliments and a convincing speech to trick her into indulging. Eve was tempted, compelled, and it was also lunch time. Eve decided to eat the apple and after sharing this news with Adam, he decides to eat the apple too.

One of the main underlying conflicts in Paradise Lost is the concept of free will. Free will is what inevitably leads to the fall of man. Adam and Eve are left alone in the Garden of Eden with only one rule, which is not to eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge. The twist to this tree is that knowledge is the awareness of everything, including good and evil. They only knew the good of mankind before they indulged. Before they ate the apple the Son of God spoke, They trespass, authors to themselves in all. Both what they judge and what they choose, for so I formed them free and they must remain. Till they enthrall themselves. (3.122) This proves that although Eve was tempted by Satan and Adam was tempted by Eve, they both had the ability to be stand against sin but they failed. Adam and Eve were unique as the first humans because they weren’t destined to do anything. They created their own endings when they used their free will to commit sin. As a result of their sin, they were forced to leave Paradise and enter the real world full of danger and atrocities. In Pullman’s book, similar issues arise in the matter of free will and good versus evil.

The Golden Compass is about a young girl named Lyra who takes it upon herself to save the world from evil. She is accompanied by Pantalaimon nicknamed Pan, who is her external soul in the form of an animal. These animals are called daemons and every human in this world has one. Lyra’s daemon, Pan, can shapeshift according to Lyra’s mood or attitude. When Lyra hits puberty her daemon will settle into one animal form for the rest of her life. Lyra is looked after by her Uncle, Lord Asriel, and his scholar friends at Oxford University. Lord Asriel is a researcher and he was interested in a mysterious particle that builds the attachment between humans and their daemons called dust. When Lord Asriel goes to the North on an exploration to eliminate dust we meet Ms. Colbert, who is about to become the new guardian of Lyra. Ms. Colbert is a stunning woman of high authority with a stern personality and a bit of a dark side. During this time, the world is in a state of crime as children are being abducted by a group called the globbers. Lyra’s two friends Billy and Roger get kidnapped which leads her into a wild adventure to save them. This trip turns out to be more of a learning experience for Lyra.

Pullman created Lyra with the same intentions as Adam and Eve, to not be destined for anything but to control the course of her life with free will.

Lyra definitely had good intentions but in the end she changes her own life and the affects the lives of those around her.

In Pullman’s and Milton’s book the main characters are two strong females that are needed to execute both storylines. Lyra and Eve share innocence, confidence, and a life changing experience when they leave their home. Lyra is innocent because she is not aware of her own truth and the truth of the world around her. Lyra gets a rude awakening when she finds out that Lord Asriel and Ms. Coulter are actually her mother and father. Increasingly, after her own research she learns that her mother is in charge of kidnapping children and discovers her true intention for them.

Lyra is confident that she can save the children which includes her best friend Roger which she does but she gets some help along the way. After Lyra saves Roger, she unknowingly ends up getting him killed when he is used for her fathers experiment to severe him from his daemon. Lyra comes to understand evil, she is disappointed in the truth about her parents and realize she has to save dust since the evil people want to get rid of it. In the same way, Eve is innocent because she literally lives in Paradise, no other reality exist to her. Before she falls, she is confidence that she would be strong enough to stand against Satan on her own. She is put to the test when she is tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit and unfortunately she fails. As a result of sin, Eve becomes aware of evil in the world and her character get corrupted. First, she believes she is more superior than she was because she has new knowledge from the fruit, then she convinced Adam to eat the first knowing that he might die, and later on she is in a dark mental space when she suggested commiting suicide. Both characters are robbed of their innocence, get into trouble because of their confidence, and become changed after their experience with the world.

Two of the most important men in each novel were blinded perfection. Lord Asriel is the reflection of Adam, with the exception that he is the evil one. Adam knowingly agreed to eat the apple with Eve knowing that it would lead to his own destruction because he loved Eve so much. After Adam realized what he had done, he admitted to himself What seem’d in thee so perfect that I thought, No evil durst attempt thee. But I rue (pg. 229). At this point, Adam realized he let his love for Eve get so carried away, he could not see her flaws. Similarly, Lord Asriel is primarily focused on his experiment to remove dust and rid the world of evil. Children could grow into pure adults and remain innocent if dust is not inflicted on them. However, he ends up killing a child during a procedure to remove the dust by severing the child from his daemon. He gets so caught up in trying to save the world that he doesn’t realize it is the very thing making him immoral. Although Lord Asriel has some attributes of Satan as he is clearly evil, both characters have two different objectives. Satan is trying to corrupt the world while Lord Asriel is trying to make the world perfect. Adam and Lord Asriel are more alike because they both went wrong by believing that someone or something could be perfect.

I believe Ms. Coulter is the female version of Satan. Pullman created this character to address the appearance of evil. While Satan was trying to convince Eve to eat the apple, he used very seductive language by flattering her and making her blush. Mrs. Coulter is introduced to readers as a very attractive woman with a sense of style, which is why Lyra is immediately impressed by her. Ms. Coulter is also in charge of the organization that runs the General Oblation Board (short acronym for gobblers). The purpose of the gobblers were to abduct children so they could be severed from their daemons in order to stop dust from entering their body. Ms. Coulter has a child of her own, as we later find out that she is Lyra’s mother. Ms. Coulter knows that this is wrong because she stops Lyra from having the procedure done. We can assume that she has no morals to oversee the victimization of these innocent children. Satan is similar because he was an angel in heaven with traits of jealousy and greed. After being kicked out of heaven, he chooses Adam and Eve to be his victims because it is apart of his greater plan to corrupt the world and spite God.
The most important concept of both books is the external force that lies beyond the characters control. Both authors delved into the realm of evil, however Milton made it a matter of choice while Pullman displayed it as a matter of nature. The particle dust is the reflection of the apple from the forbidden tree. In Paradise Lost, the apple represented sin but it also gave Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil.

They only knew the good of the world before eating the fruit. The concept of dust in The Golden Compass represents the same thing, an awareness of evil. Dust is a mysterious particle that is being studied by Lord Asriel. He figures out that Dust is what allows children’s daemon’s to settle into the animal that’ll represent their general character for the rest of their life. This final change occurs at the time of puberty, which is when children start to become mature and knowledgeable about the world. Lord Asriel explains dust to Lyra by saying, Somewhere out there is the origin of all the Dust, all the death, the sin, the misery, the destructiveness in the world. Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it, Lyra. That’s original sin. And I’m going to destroy it. Death is going to die. (page 377) The only difference between the two symbols was the shift of responsibility. It was a choice to eat the apple, whereas the dust was automatically inflicted on the coming-of-age child.

Philip Pullman uniquely converted Paradise Lost into a new book. He was able to express each of Milton’s ideologies _____ . ADD CONCLUSION.

Satan in Paradise Lost

An epic hero is a brave and noble character in an epic poem. Multiple arguments can be made on whether or not Satan is the true epic hero of Milton’s Paradise Lost. There are readers who think that Satan is the true hero purely based off of the first two chapters of this epic poem.

In these first two chapters, Milton portrays Satan as a heroic figure, which possibly could have mislead readers into thinking that Satan is truly good and an epic hero since Satan is technically still an archangel at this point of the poem. Readers later learn that Satan is not the true hero of the poem as they read further and further into the poem. The previously held honor and respect Satan had is lost by the end of Paradise Lost because his pride and hatred towards God and his creation control his actions throughout the book. It can clearly be stated that Satan is not the true hero in Paradise Lost based off of Milton’s intentions for this epic poem and by the steady deterioration of Satan’s characters as the poem progresses.

In the first two books of Paradise Lost, Satan is portrayed as the hero in this epic poem. He is described with striking qualities in both mind and heart, setting him apart from the rest of the characters in this poem. Milton describes with such great stature. Satan is described as selfless, noble, and superior in his leadership skills and is pictured to stand as high as a tower carrying a massive shield. As defined earlier, an epic hero is generally a brave and noble leader and warrior. Therefore, some readers conclude that Satan is the true hero based off of what Milton was describing about Satan’s role in a position of authority and stance. After Satan falls, he gathers all of the other fallen angels in Hell. He stirs them up with an exceptional speech. He acts as a true leader by speaking of their shame in falling from Heaven, but he goes on by urging them to gather and fight back. If once they hear that voice, (their liveliest pledge of hope in fears and dangers) they will soon resume new courage and revive (Milton, 1.274-279). Satan’s voice and its effect is mentioned and described multiple times throughout this epic, but this, specifically, is the first description of how his voice affected the angels. In this moment, Milton describes Satan’s voice and how Satan was able to renew the hope and the courage of the fallen angels simply by the actual sound of his voice. Satan continues to urge on his men. And this empyreal substance cannot fail, since through experience of this great event in arms not worse…We may with more successful hope resolve to wage by force or guile eternal war Irreconcilable (Milton, 1.117-122). He convinces his men, and possibly himself, that if they rise up stronger and united in battle, they may win next time.

Throughout this speech, he connects with the fallen angels through the humility they share from falling from Heaven, which forms a more personal connection with his men and makes him seem more relatable, and he lifts up their spirits with the hope of being the victors in the upcoming battles. After reading his speech, a reader could conclude that Satan is a true hero based off of how he has acted towards his men. He acted as a true leader by calming their fears and despair and by encouraging his men to unite and to not lose hope. Immediately after Satan gives his speech, he opens the floor to others. Many of the fallen angels express their ideas and opinions, but the advice of Beelzebub strikes a significant amount of support from the rest. Beelzebub suggests that they seek revenge by corrupting the new loved race. Before acting on this plan, they needed to send a scout to learn more about the new world, and Satan, in attempts to paint himself as a hero and liberator in their eyes, volunteers to go. By volunteering himself, he gains more respect, trust, and admiration for his bravery.

This epic poem starts off painting Satan as a prominent leader and epic hero, but slowly shows how Satan is not the true hero of the poem. After analyzing Satan’s heroic qualities, he does not perform any heroic actions, except in his speeches. Though his speeches are impressive on the outside, they are misleading, filled with exaggeration and lies. After truly reading and understanding what Milton was writing, Satan’s first speech is actually terrifying and horrific. Filled with empty words, Satan’s egotistical pride and arrogance shine through. Satan is not an epic hero, but he makes himself out to be one. From hero to general, from general to politicians, from politician to secret service agent, and thence to a thing that peers in at bedroom or bathroom window, and thence to a toad, and finally to a snake-such is the progress of Satan. (C. S. Lewis). Immediately after falling from Heaven, he assumes the position of leader. He encourages the other fallen angels to not dwell on their lose and humility, but to rise up and fight. Satan’s arrogance is so great and blinding in this moment for he believes he can overpower God and His army of angels. At this point he is simply a fallen archangel. When Satan is trying to find paradise, he turns into a cherub, which is a low-ranking angel, to deceive archangel Uriel. He approaches the archangel and lies effortlessly. His speech was done so perfectly that Uriel could not see through the ruse and he gives Satan the directions gladly. When Satan finds God’s beloved creations, he grows angry and jealous. Going through with his plan to ruin God’s race, he turns himself into a toad and whispers into Eve’s ear. Milton describes Satan as the Devil for the first time in the poem proving that he is actually the personification of Hell. The poem advances, and Satan returns to finish his missions after failing the first time. This time, Satan transforms into a serpent and approaches Eve. Look on me! Me who have touched and tasted yet both live and life more perfect have attained than fate meant me, by vent’ring higher than my Lot (Milton, 9.687-690). Eve easily is manipulated because he used his eloquent speaking to make sinning seem irresistible and appealing. In the end, Satan is punished for his sins and is condemned to a life as a serpent, along with all the other fallen angels. Because of Satan’s rage, arrogance, pride, and jealousy, all mankind has had to suffer. In succeeding to manipulate Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve were exiled from paradise, and Sin and Death were released from Hell into Earth. If Satan had not been so prideful and jealous, mankind would have been better for it. Because Satan expresses a wide range of human emotions and characteristics throughout the book, one can see the changes in his character going from a prideful and mischievous fallen angel to an angry and deceitful devil.

Even though Milton paints Satan as the hero and liberator to the fallen angels, Satan is not the hero of Paradise Lost. Satan is undoubtedly a character of great prominence, but he is not a hero. Milton mercilessly reveals Satan as a prideful, egotistical, vengeful devil, but some readers get stuck in the superficial heroisms of Satan. We need not doubt that it was the poet’s intention to be fair to evil, to give it a run for its money—::to show it first at the height, with all its rants and melodrama and ?Godlike imitated state’ about it, and then to trace what actually becomes of such self-intoxication when it encounters reality. (C. S. Lewis). Lewis captures exactly what Milton was doing with Satan’s character in Paradise Lost. When reading this epic poem, one should keep in mind that Milton was a Puritan. Anything flashy, extravagant, and flamboyant was seen as evil in the eyes of the Puritans. One can infer after reading this poem, Milton was writing through the views of a Puritan. Milton describes Satan so lavishly that it is clear that he is not the hero of the poem, but is the devil filled with malicious intents. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it. (Blake). William Blake is suggesting that in Paradise Lost Satan is the embodiment of deception and desire. Any reader can conclude that Milton goes into immense detail about Satan’s character, in such a way that it cannot be compared to the rest of the characters in the epic. A question is posed on how Satan can be portrayed as such a grand character of Milton’s poem. That is, as C. S. Lewis also says, because Satan is incomparably the easiest to draw. To make a character worse than oneself it is only necessary to release imaginatively from control some of the bad passions which, in real life, are always straining at the leash;… (C.S.Lewis). Lewis is saying that to make a character worse than oneself, he or she has to take the worst personal qualities he or she keeps hidden and under control and to release all of it into that character. Milton used his own worst qualities and portrayed them into Satan’s character resulting in the most impressive character in this epic poem. As C. S. Lewis so perfectly put it, The Satan in Milton enables him to draw the character well just as the Satan is un enables us to receive it. Milton is described as a fallen man, which in many ways is similar to a fallen angel. For one who has many dark secret, he can create the worst kind of characters. It can be inferred that Milton was a part of the devil’s party. It is therefore right to say that Milton has put much of himself into Satan (C.S.Lewis). With all these things having been considered, it can be concluded that a reason for such in-depth descriptions could be that Milton was portraying parts of himself in Satan. Milton wrote Satan’s character in great detail to show the extent of Satan’s wickedness. He uses Satan’s beautiful speeches, but then reveals Satan’s true intentions; he presents Satan in such an exposing way to gain pity and sympathy; and then he later shows how through these things he is able to trick his readers into sympathizing with Satan. By doing these things, Milton was showing the steady deterioration of Satan.

Satan can not be the hero of this epic. Even though there are some who believe he is the true hero, they have been mislead by Milton’s writing and did not understand the true meaning of Milton’s work. Though it is true that Satan is a prominent figure, this does not mean he is the hero of the poem. He is a prominent figure in the poem in order to show how Satan is able to deceive and manipulate people. Satan took advantage of the fallen angels by using their despair to get what he wants most. Driven by his pride and arrogance, he was determined to bring all doom to God’s new beloved creation. By his own will he becomes a serpent in Book IX; in Book X he is a serpent whether he will or no. (C. S. Lewis). From being an archangel to being a serpent against his own will, Satan can not be categorized as a hero. A hero does not drive to ruin God’s work because he is jealous and too prideful. Therefore, Satan is not the hero of Paradise Lost.

Most Powerful Enemy in Paradise Lost

The act of disobedience is so powerful, it can bring down an entire world. Disobedience is one of the most prevalent themes found in the epic poem, Paradise Lost. John milton paints disobedience as the act that can ruin any person or God no matter how powerful they think they are. John Milton shows the thematic portrayal of disobedience through direct verbiage, constant repetition, and through divinity.

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse, consisting of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse and was written by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. The first version of Paradise Lost was published in 1667. Ironically you could say that John Milton writing this very epic poem itself in a way is disobedience to what was popular published works at the time. Milton created a work that reflected the like-minded Protestant revolutionary readers who have presumably suffered and lost with Milton in the cause of liberty and religious nonconformity (Reisner, Noam. John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ : A Reading Guide, Edinburgh University Press, 2011). During the 17th century, not writing stories inspired by Greek Muses, let alone is English, was unheard of. John Milton decided to go completely against the grain and write an epic poem with the Holy ghost as his Muse. Milton used Christian stories from the bible as his focus. Milton even went a step further from not just writing about Greek and Egyptian pantheons, but to also refer to them as demons. This drastic change of style from what was popularized at the time did not stop John Milton from writing this epic poem the would change the literature world forever, but also have that time in literature be referred as the Milton Era.

Right at the beginning, Milton addresses the theme of disobedience that will continue throughout the epic poem by saying verbatim Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast Brought Death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat (Book I, 1-5). this quote is better understood when translated to plain english as Tell me about man’s first sin, when he tasted the forbidden fruit and caused all our troubles, until Jesus came and saved us. The reader is able to swiftly connect John Milton’s epic poem to the Story of Characters in the bible, Adam and Eve, who were the first humans to bring sin into the world and ultimately lead to Jesus having to come down to earth to save mankind. This opening also foreshadow later events that will undergo later in the poem caused by disobedience and is one of many exemplary of Milton’s theme of Disobedience that will be continued to be discussed throughout the paper.

John Milton had a unique style to start in the middle of the action instead of creating a base or build-up. The reader is able to view this style by the opening of the epic poem. Paradise Lost begins with the aftermath consequence of the first venture of disobedience to occur in the universe Milton created. As Milton’s speaker is asking the holy spirit how sin came into the world, the holy spirit tells the story of Adam and Eve. The Holy Spirit then sums the creation of sin in the world as being caused by one particular person, Satan. Now that Milton has introduced the main character, he jumps to Satan’s current predicament. Satan who is talking with his many followers down in hell, who were cast out of heaven after disobeying God, says The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those, Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent or change (book I, 94-96) which basically is Satan grumbling about his constant suffering and how he does not repent his actions of defiance. Satan wanting more power then he already had, so he called out God. This led to a war with God and Satan ultimately lost. That operation got Satan and the other fallen angels thrown out of heaven and placed in hell where there is No light, but rather darkness visible Serv’d onely to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace and rest can never dwell, hope never comes that comes to all; but torture without end. God’s punishment of Satan and his followers however, only gave Satan fuel to promise Whereto with speedy words th’ Arch-fiend reply’d. Fall’n Cherube, to be weak is miserable Doing or Suffering: but of this be sure, To do ought good never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight, As being the contrary to his high will Whom we resist ( book I, 156-162). which translates to never doing good again, doing the opposite of what God wants. This act of disobedience is tremendously important because its a mutinus act against the greatest good of the universe and also the culprit to all the other ruins to occur in the poem.

As continued in Milton’s book II, Satan is still planning with his other fallen followers in hell how to plague God. However, it isn’t till book III that Satan hears about God’s new world he’s creating. Satan then devises the plan the corrupt the people that will populate that world and make them sin so that God will also have to cast them out as well and Satan will be able to successfully bring sin into the world. Milton still having the poem spoken through the perspective of the holy spirit, it says In blissful solitude; he then surveyed Hell and the Gulf between, and Satan there Coasting the wall of Heav’n on this side Night In the dun Air sublime, and ready now To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet On the bare outside of this World ( book III, 69-74) translating to God saw that Satan was planning to attack the new world. As continued in book IV the holy spirit says Satan, now first inflam’d with rage, came down, The Tempter ere th’ Accuser of man-kind, To wreck on innocent frail man his loss Of that first Battel, and his flight to Hell (book IV, 9-12) translating to satan’s plans to take his revenge out on the people of Earth and drag everyone down to hell with him. This act of disobedience is important because it is another place Milton shows satan freely choice to continue to defy God, how instead to coming to repent, satan is still choosing to find other ways to be insubordinate.

An interesting turn that Milton addresses in the poem is not only to hell satan must forever live at, but the own internal suffering satan must face from the choices he commited. Even when satan was out of hell and on God’s new world, he could not fight the feeling that he was still in hell, only this hell was mental. Satan is stuck with painful memories of the glory he once had and how terrible his situation had become (in plain english). this caused the villain in this poem to have some character growth Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down Warring in Heav’n against Heav’ns matchless King: Ah wherefore! he deservd no such return From me, whom he created what I was In that bright eminence, and with his good Upbraided none; nor was his service hard (book IV, 40-45), because in this quote, satan is questioning his own selfish actions that took him away from greatness. Nevertheless, Satan is quickly stuck back in his old ways and devises the plan to have mankind fall.

The next act of disobedience to undergo in the poem is through the Adam and Eve story that had been foreshadowed in the beginning. Gods one command for Adam and Eve not to break was “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (The First Three Chapters of Genesis: Principles of Governance Stated Narratively). Although God can already see Satan’s plans of destruction Hinder’d not Satan to attempt the minde Of Man, with strength entire, and free will arm’d, Complete to have discover’d and repulst( book X, 8-10), but as translated doesn’t stop him because he aquipted man with the most power thing to defend themselves, free will. Eve chooses to use the gift of freewill to be the first one to disobey God. A snake that has been possessed by Satan tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and Eve gives in and then so does Adam. All because of Satan’s desire to bring as many people down with him as possible to upset his enemy, God, He brings sin into the world by persuading Adam and Eve’s actions. This, however, is not the only downfall to happen from a single action. God now must cast both Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and now [he] have to pass sentence on him, which will be death (english version).

Throughout the book of paradise lost, its theme from start to finish is based on the constant disobedience of the characters.

Work Citation

  1. Reisner, Noam. John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ A Reading Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2011. Reading Guides to Long Poems. Web.
  2. Bloom, Harold. The Bible. Original ed. 2017. Bloom’s Modern Critical Views. Web.
  3. Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost: Short Summary, New Arts Library ?© 2009 All Rights Reserved , November 24, 2018.

About a classic poem Paradise lost written by John Milton

Paradise lost is a classic poem written by John Milton. In his work, Milton major theme was clearly indicated in the beginning statements and related to disobedience of man and justification of the ways of God. Paradise lost is a story about how Adam and Eve were created and how they lost their place in the garden of Eden.

It is possible to defend the notion that Satan is the real hero of paradise lost. He appears as the main character with strange attributes that makes him achieve catastrophic status. In his work, Milton made Satan character appealing beyond his theological limits. During that period, individuals were encouraged and inspired by Milton writings to look for freedom from the kings as well as the Roman church with the intention of improving their conditions and making their lives pleasant (Milton, John & Helen 9). Satan can well explain this rebelled against God, which portrays him as a hero. Blake brought this into the limelight by postulating that Milton was for the Satan party without his knowledge. In the poem, Satan has been portrayed as a character with grand attributes that are worth admiration. In the poem, the character Satan has been featured with a lot of energy and magnificence. According to Hazlitt, the poem portrays Satan as the most heroic subject that has ever been chosen for any poem. According to the verse, Satan is presented with specific characteristics that are possessed by epic heroes portraying him as a sympathetic and catastrophic character. From the poem, the size of the equipment’s carried by Satan as well as his physical dimensions makes him a hero. According to the poem, he has long limbs and a massive bulk like a titan (Milton, John & Helen 89). The poem describes Satan as a character that that materializes hope looking forward to the acquisition of land. On top this attributes, Satan is the first creature to be thrown to hell for trying to be equal to God. Anytime Satan figure is introduced in the poem, it comes with striking and appropriate images such as gigantic, portentous and proud. This implies that Satan has been given a lot of attention in the poem making him a true hero of the poem.

In paradise lost, Milton talked about man disobedience to God. According to him, rebellion is what made Adam and Eve to be chased out of the garden of Aden. They disobeyed, and this annoyed Him, which resulted in the expulsion from the paradise. Milton gives more weight to obedience as opposed to authority. Satan was thrown to hell after disobeying, and hence Milton adores obedience. Charles 1 was the first monarch to face trial for disloyalty, which resulted in his execution. Milton supported execution of Charles 1 who was labeled as a traitor and a murderer (Power, Ben & Milton 46). Charles 1 had acted in contrary to the authority and thus he was subjected to trial. For Milton, obedience comes before power. However, hindering obedience interferes with power. The fact that Charles 1 was accused of murder implies that he had disobeyed God. God orders individuals to obey his commandments, and one of the commandments is not to kill. It means that the authority putting Charles 1 in the trial was justified since he had already contravened God’s commandment and thus disobeying him. In obedience, power comes automatically and hence Milton is justified to glorify work that supports compliance as opposed to authority. Charles 1 used his bad design of erecting and keeping himself in unlimited as well as tyrannical jurisdiction to rule in his will. He overthrew the rights as well as liberties of the people (Edwards, Mike & Milton, 90). This implies that he had already disobeyed God. From Milton point of view, obedience is the mother of good deeds, and thus with compliance, authority is exercised reasonably. If God was capable of expelling Adam and Even from the paradise due to their disobedience, then any individual who portrays defiance must be executed. It implies that violation cuts across all people regardless of their status. Execution of Charles 1 was justified since his actions represented disobedience (Power, Ben & Milton 46). Milton can justify a work that glorifies obedience to authority since, with compliance, those in authority act in a just and human character. Disobedience is the root of evil, and it is what made Adam and Eve to be expelled from the paradise and Satan to be thrown to hell. This implies that disobedience must be punished and hence Milton was justified to support the execution of Charles 1.

The paradise lost tells about the fall of man from heaven as well as God’s punishment on human brings. In his first sentence, Milton promised to give justification of the ways of God to men. In the achievement of this, he addressed the issue of the paradox of the human being free will and Gods introduction of evil to human beings. This provides a logical explanation in regards to why each was designed as the plans of God. His use of God as a character is of great importance since it gives the real picture of paradise situation (Edwards, Mike & Milton, 90). Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were living and interacting freely with God. However, after their disobedience, they discovered that they were naked and begun fearing God. The use of God as character shows how close Adam and Eve were with God and that they used to live and interact freely. This implies that once you obey God, you will communicate openly with him. Additionally, Milton used God as a character to show how powerful he is since he was able to punish and destroy Satan. It implies that God is active and those who disobey him are meant to face his wrath. If God was not a character, the work would not bring a clear picture since we would not have a clear understanding of how close God can be with human beings. Seeing God interact freely with Adam and Eve before their disobedience helps in understanding the kind of a relationship that God has with his people (Power, Ben & Milton 46). In the absence of God as a character, Satan would be portrayed as active, but since God is present, Satan is defeated and thrown in hell. It implies that the presence of God as a character plays a critical role in revealing the powers of a god and showing how he works.

In conclusion, Paradise lost is a poem based on a biblical creation that provides support and illustration of Milton religious beliefs. In the absence of God, we have a different creation story and Milton emphasis on obedience since disobedience made Adam and Eve to be thrown out of paradise. In his work, he gave a lot of concentration on Satan, which provides a room with of defending that Satan is the real hero in his poem.

Works cited

Edwards, Mike. John Milton: Paradise Lost. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Internet resource.

Milton, John, and Helen Schmill. Paradise Lost 2011: A Reading Play for the Churches and the Schools. , 2011. Print.

Power, Ben, and John Milton. Paradise Lost. , 2016. Internet resource.

Analysis of an epic poem Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in the 17th century by the English poet John Milton. Paradise Lost recapitulates the original tale of Genesis, from the conflict between the lord and Satan and the temptations in the Garden of Eden. Throughout the poem, Milton compares God and the devil to one another both having angles, yet Satan’s have fallen into the darkness of Hell where they are recovering from their war against God. During this poem the poet will also include rebellious actions and punishments of Satan’s.

The first line of the poem Paradise Lost confirms that the poem’s main focus will be Man’s first disobedience, and that Milton aims to justify the ways of God to men. John Milton then goes to delineate Adam and Eve to a different extant of temptation, innocence, and distinct details of why and how. I claim that Milton describes a more sympathetic view of Christianity, by presenting the difference in God verses Satan, mans disobedience, and Milton’s personalized simplification of Adam and Eve.

Through out the poem you may find yourself feeling sympathy for the devil, pitying him, or even cheering for him. As for God in Paradise Lost he is not the kind, forgiving, nice guy he’s made out to be in the book of Genesis. Paradise Lost begins with the argument witch contains a flash back of the war between God and Satan. In the poem Satan says, better to reign in hell, than serve in heav’n, this is Satan making his own situation sound like a proud choice rather than horrendous position (book 1, line 263.) Though out this poem Milton devises the reader to believe that Satan is content where he’s at, but after makes multiple comments like the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n, leaving the reader distressing over Satan’s situation (book 1, lines 254-255.)

However its possible to find your self-routing for Satan and his confidence as he lacks self-knowledge of his own limitations, for he can not realize that he will never defeat God or his creations but only tamper with. Satan is confound when his united forces are defeated as he believes no worriers were as strong as his, not realizing god would repulse Satan’s army.

Paradise Lost Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is one of the most controversial and key immigration issues in the country. Illegal immigration is the immigration of a people into a country in ways that violates the immigration laws of that country or people remain in a country without legal rights to remain. Illegal immigration involves people crossing international political borders through water, land, and air inappropriately.

The United State of America is a country affected by Illegal immigration. Illegal immigration in the USA is and has been an ongoing battle for many years. Most of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. are from Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Based on certain research in 2015, estimated population of illegal immigrants are 11.5 million people in USA out of 321 million people. The effects of illegal immigration are felt more extremely in states where large numbers of immigrants have been settled in relation to others. The most of illegal immigrants come to the country to have a better future. In this paper, the various effects that illegal immigration has on the United State of America will be examined. These effects include social effects, economic effects, political effects, and environmental effects among others. Also, there are some pros and cons of illegal immigration of the United States of America. A social impact is the effect of an activity on the community and well-being of the individuals and families.

A social effect is one of the major effects of illegal immigration. There are different types of social effects of illegal immigration. These social effects are crime, social utilities, diseases, and harsh transit conditions. A crime is one of the social effect of illegal immigration. A crime is an illegal activity that is considered to be wrong or evil. These days the crimes are increasing significantly daily. Everyday there is at least one news of crime going on in USA on newspaper, television, or social media. There are all different types of people involved in different types of crime. All the illegal immigrants engage in criminal activities leads to high rate of crimes. Illegal immigrants are largely associated in some of the criminal activities like dealing with drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Also, there are some other criminal activities like stealing things, stealing of identities, and assault. Padilla served this nation with honor as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. He now faces deportation after pleading guilty to the transportation of a large amount of marijuana in his tractor-trailer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (McLeod). Most of the immigrants are involved in buying, selling, and transporting of illegal drugs.

In 1986, the governments introduced new law called immigration reform and control act of 1986 demanding employers not to hire or recruit illegal immigrants. The act of 1986 made it hard for immigrants to find a job, so illegal immigrants began to steal identification documents and social security number from US citizens to enable to get a job. In the last couple of years identity crimes are highly rated in USA. The crime rates are increasing significantly in USA, but it’s not always proved that crimes are increase because of illegal immigrants. There are some illegal immigrants involve in certain crimes, but not all illegal immigrants are involved in crimes. Mostly illegal immigrants are involved in small crimes like robbery. According to these estimates, immigration increases only the incidence of robberies, while leaving unaffected all other types of crime. Since robberies represent a very minor fraction of all criminal offenses, the effect on the overall crime rate is not significantly different from zero (Paolo). There is an estimated of 15 percent illegal immigrants involved in crime than a legal resident or native-born. A native-born Americans are involved in high crimes like rape, or murder than an illegal immigrant people. Disease is one of the major social effects and health issue of illegal Immigration. Illegal immigrants bringing disease into United State is one of the most thriving health concern. There are at least one out of every five illegal immigrants bringing diseases into the country.

Immigrants bringing illness into a USA is major health concern because most of the illegal immigrants don’t undergo the necessary medical testing like flu shots, pregnancy, tuberculosis, and they end up bringing illness into the country. For example, tuberculosis had been absent for a while in US and suddenly shows up in certain states such as New York, New jersey, and California. As the number of illegal immigrants increases in the United Sates, also the numerical growth of those infected by tuberculosis rises by 55 percent. Illegal immigrants bringing illness is one the major health issue for every country. Most of the time people whether its legal resident or illegal immigrants doesn’t know that they have illness and they end up bringing illness into the country accidently. The most of illegal immigrants come to the country to get better future for their family. Illegal immigrants comes to the county illegal because sometime they don’t have other choice or legal way to come into the county. Some people or families have to make some sudden choice depending on the situation, so most of time people doesn’t have enough time to undergo the necessary medical testing. In certain situation illegal immigrants doesn’t have enough time to do testing, so they wouldn’t know if they have disease or not and they would end up carrying diseases with them. An economic effect is also one of the major illegal immigration effects. The numerical of growth of illegal immigrants in the United States has led to concerns about effects of illegal immigrants on financial economics and wages. Some of the economic effects are unwanted job, competition, taxes, and fraud.

There are many number of illegal immigrants in USA, who is employee of certain company or employer of their own company. Most of the adult illegal immigrants are no educated or less educated than a native-born American. An adult immigrant, who are less educated, are trying to find job in labor work. Illegal immigrants provide a huge competition to the US citizens on labor work opportunities that are available. Sometime native-born American fears from illegal immigrants because illegal immigrants are usually wiling work in labor market for less minimum wage and they are willing to work without any benefits such as insurance cover. For the most part, these spatial correlations suggested that the average native wage is only slightly lower in labor markets where immigrants tend to cluster. If one city has 10 percent more immigrants than another, the native wage in the city with more immigrants is only about 0.2 percent lower (Borjas). Mostly native-born American fear from labor job opportunities, but not for wages because most of the time there is no difference in wages for native-born American. Sometime most of the illegal immigrants doesn’t pay taxes, so native-born American has to pay more higher taxes to fulfil all the social utilities like school and public transportation. Usually government has to bear the cost of illegal immigrants when they use social services. Illegal immigrants are willing to work in labor market for minimum wage and are willing to move to different locations as demanded by the labor market.

Also, they willing to work overtime, so they will end up contributing significantly to the gross products. Sometimes government might have to bear the cost of social services, but illegal immigrants are willing to work in the US economy that US citizen are not willing to work. If there is no one to work in labor then price for goods and services will increase significantly, and income of the citizens will reduce. Illegal immigration is one the major issue for every country. Each year there are around 500,000 illegal immigrants that moves to the United States. There are so many pros and cons of illegal immigration. Based on the facts illegal immigrants are involved in crimes, but not high rated crimes like native-born Americans are involved in rape or murder. Most of the illegal immigrants do not pay taxes, but they do work overtime which end up contributing for the goods. They are willing work in labor force for minimum wages that native-born Americans are not willing to work in labor. Sometime illegal immigration is needed for the better economic situations. Illegal immigration is acceptable depending on the situation of the person. If the person lives in a terrified country like North Korea, then illegal immigration is able to be tolerated.

  1. McLeod, Allegra M. “The U.S. criminal-immigration convergence and its possible undoing. American Criminal Law Review, Winter 2012, pp. 105+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,
  2. Milo,Bianchi, et al. Do Immigrants Cause Crime? Journal of the European Economic Association, Vol. 10, no.6, December. 2012, pp. 1318“1347.
  3. Borjas, George J. Issues in the Economics of Immigration. National Bureau of Economic Research, January. 2000, pp.1-14. ISBN: 0-226-06631-2.

Analysis of whether Milton was of the devil’s party or not

This essay aims to analyze whether Milton was of the devil’s party or not. To support my argument, I will be mentioning different critics and their perspective on whether Milton should be considered of the devil’s party or not. John Milton wrote the greatest epic poems when he wrote Paradise Lost.

It is a poem written in an expensive, majestic verse with a serious tone and begins in ?medias res’ as Homer’s epic poems do. The book describes the creation of man and its fall while detailing characters and the plot beyond what the Bible has taught. Milton tries to write in the tradition and style of Homer’s Iliad or Virgil’s Aeneid. Milton’s main focus is not the heroic men, but the struggle and tragedy of humanity. The story of the epic, Paradise Lost, has been taken from Genesis, in The Bible; it is a simple story of the fall of Adam and Eve from the grace of God due to their disobedience to him. In heaven, Lucifer, who becomes Satan after the fall from heaven, was unable to accept the supremacy of God, and lead the revolt against his divine authority. After a terrible war with God’s angles, he was finally thrown into Hell, where Satan and the other fallen angles lay in burning lake.

William Blake claims that Milton was of the devil’s party without knowing it. Blake might have meant that I think, Milton has presented Satan as the real hero of the epic, Paradise Lost, unknowingly. According to the critics of the Romantic Age, Satan is the actual hero of the epic. Similarly, A.J.Waldock and other twentieth-century critics see Satan as sympathetic and admirable and God as distant and dictatorial. On the other hand, critics like C.S.Lewis in Preface to Paradise Lost, are of the view that Satan may be exceptionally well drawn but he is nonetheless egocentric and just simple evil. Satan is one of the most argumented, controversial and popular characters in the history of literature. The reason is a lack of clarity about Satan being the villain or the hero of Paradise Lost. Satan holds many traits which qualify him as the hero, whereas, there are also some characteristics which distinguish him as the villain of the epic. Edith Kaiter and Corina Sanduic, in their article, Milton’s Satan: Hero or Anti-Hero?, state, Satan is both hero and villain, revolted against tyranny and tyrants, preacher of freedom and prisoner of his own egocentrism.(2)

Milton has presented Satan as a heroic figure in his epic, Paradise Lost. Milton shows that Satan is the reflection of leadership and bravery because Satan, although in his worst state, still upholds his principles that enlist him in hell in the first place. Satan says, in

Paradise Lost:

All is not lost, the unconquerable will.

And the study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield

And what else is not to be overcome?

That glory never shall his wrath or might

Extort from me.

(Paradise Lost, Book 1. 106-11)

The core of Satan’s heroism in the epic is that he is in favor of his own beliefs, even though he would fight against all odds. Satan makes high-sounding speeches. Through these speeches, he makes himself the hero, whereas in my opinion, Satan’s heroism is false because it is built on false aims, beliefs and unworthy plans to defeat the divine authority. However, without a doubt, it can be said that Milton has used his poetic and dramatic powers to the full while depicting Satan. A.J.Waldock quotes Mr. Lewis in his essay, Satan and the Technique of Degradation, as: Satan is already wilting under the doom of Non-sense”that his brain is already in process of decay. (79).

The character of Satan is, no doubt, a powerful and a complex character throughout Book 1 of Paradise Lost. Milton has projected Satan, in some verses, as the hero of the epic and in some verses, he shows that Satan is a manipulative, trick-ish and a lying individual. Satan is seen vengeful because even though he has been punished and thrown to hell from heaven, he still remains firm in his objective that is his rebellion against God. Moreover, Satan is high in his ambition and therefore cannot bear to be a servant and must become a ruler. He says:

To reign is worth ambition, though in hell

Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven

(Paradise Lost, Book 1. 262-63)

As John Carey, in The Cambridge Companion, observes, the term most suitable to express this ambivalence of character is ?depth’. Depth in a fictional character, Carey argues, depends on a degree of ignorance being sustained in the reader, the illusions, he continues, must be created that the character has levels from us, the observers. (133). Also, if we analyze Satan’s speeches, we come to know that there are several evasions on his part and that he makes certain claims which are not backed up by evidence, since, the logic of the speech is insecure, naturally (Waldock 80). Satan is a lost soul to whom hope never comes that comes to all. Satan is not a uni-directional character but a multi-directional character. In fact, as readers, we do not have to express sympathy with Satan, whose aim is to misguide and deceive his followers through his grand speeches.

Since Milton considered himself a devout Christian, it is difficult to accept that he would have consciously crafted the traditional embodiment of evil into a positive role model. From the opening of Book 1, it is clear that there is a conflict between God and Satan. Milton uses his Biblical knowledge and elements of epic poetry to invoke a sense of grandeur while describing Pandemonium, the capital of Hell, in Paradise Lost. Before man is even in the picture, Milton portrays the underlying conflict of which the man will eventually become a part of. After being banished from heaven, Satan and the other fallen angles find a temple that becomes a meeting place for them to discuss their intent of waging war against God and man.

At Pandemonium, the high capital

Of Satan and his peers: their summons called

From every band and squared regiment

(Paradise Lost. Book 1. 756-58)

In carrying on the discussion, many critics think that Satan’s pride is the replication of Milton’s own. Accordingly, Waldock mentions Mr. Lewis that in Satan we see Milton’s own pride, malice, folly, misery, and lust (85). In other words, it would not be wrong to say that Milton has put much of himself into the character of Satan. Critics are of the opinion that Book 1 of Paradise Lost, justifies the ways of Satan to men rather than to justify the ways of God to men. I agree to this because, throughout Book 1, we only see Satan making grand speeches and revolting against the divine authority. Douglas Bush, in his essay, Characters and Drama, claims that Milton have put his heart and soul in the projection of Satan.

In connection to this, Milton creates a character who is someone we tend to appreciate and someone we want to see defeated as well. To say that Satan’s character has layers, would not be wrong after-all. Satan in some of the verses of the epic, Paradise Lost, seems to be a bold and courageous leader with a clear vision of his mission, whereas in some of the verses Satan is the horrible co-existence and incessant intellectual activity with an incapacity to understand anything. To elaborate on this, we can look up to the contradictions in Satan’s speeches as

What matter where, if I be still the same

And what I should be, all but less than he

whom thunder hath made greater? Here at last

We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:

Here we may reign secure, and in my choice

To reign is worth ambition though in Hell

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven

(Paradise Lost, Book 1.256-63)

Whereas, as we go along the poem Satan says

Awake, arise or be forever fallen.

(Paradise Lost. Book 1.330)

Both of the verses mentioned above, are the clear example of the contradiction in Satan’s speeches.

Conclusively, I think that Milton was of the devil’s party because, throughout Paradise Lost, we see a character who keeps on to revolt against the divine authority, God. If Milton was not of the devil’s party he might not have endowed Satan with such grand leadership qualities. I believe that the reason behind Milton endowing Satan with such qualities is that an opponent to God had to be of great dramatic stature. The use of glorious words by Milton to describe Satan is to show him only as a leader. I believe that almost the whole of the book 1 revolves around the character of Satan, so it might be natural for Milton to portray Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost. On the other hand, grandiloquence and chivalry are the two qualities that Milton appears to be repudiating in Paradise Lost. And the fact that Satan reveals these qualities indicate that Milton was not of the devil’s party after all.

How does Milton depict Satan’s leadership qualities in Paradise Lost?

Strong leadership is often a key aspect for a group to work well together. In Paradise Lost, John Milton depicts Satan as a strong leader who is able to lead a loyal group of fallen angels through adversity. Milton depicts Satan as possessing key leadership qualities that allow him to lead the group powerfully, such as his ability to motivate others, his courage, and his confidence and loyalty to his group.

Satan’s most important and obvious leadership quality in Paradise Lost is his ability to motivate others. This ability is shown multiple times throughout both books, but especially in book one, where the group is demotivated and defeated from losing the battle with God. After being cast down into Hell by God after the battle, Satan gives multiple motivational speeches. In his first speech, Satan says:

What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield:

And what is else not to be overcome?

That Glory never shall his wrath or might

Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace

With suppliant knee, and deifie his power

(Book 1, 105-112)

This passage is part of Satan’s first motivational speech after being cast into Hell. This passage is important due to Satan encouraging the fallen angels to not lose spirit and to not give up. Satan refers to losing the ?field’ of Heaven, yet the spirit of the fallen angels is not lost. He encourages the fallen angels that their will, courage, and effort is not lost, and that he is not prepared to give up. This is an important idea as a leader because a good leader doesn’t give up on their team, and continues fighting. This passage makes it clear that the defeat hasn’t stopped him from trying, and he encourages the others to not give up either. Milton displays this resilient and motivational quality in Satan to support that he is a good leader, and that he will fight for his team.

Two more key passages that highlight Satan’s motivational qualities come in his third speech of the Book. These passages come after Satan’s acceptance of losing Heaven and his shift to accepting Hell. In these passages, Satan says:

The mind is its own place, and in it self

Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

(Book 1, 254-255)

Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce

To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.

(Book 1, 261-263)

Both of these passages show a shift in mentality for Satan and how he is encouraging the others to accept Hell and the positive qualities that it holds. In the first passage, Satan is encouraging a mental shift to changing the focus onto the positive aspects of Hell, and how they can make the best of the situation. This is an important realization for a leader, because leadership can succeed when the best is made of a situation. The second quote follows the same idea, looking at the positive side of Hell. Satan shows his leadership with his desire to reign in Hell, stating that he would rather be a leader in Hell than a servant in Heaven. This passage makes Satan’s desire to lead clear.

Another key aspect in Satan’s leadership is his ?halftime speech’ in which he encourages the other fallen angels to continue fighting and to not back down, along with offering the solution to have a meeting about the next steps. Milton portrays Satan as somewhat similar to a sports team captain with this speech, even with the wording he uses before Satan’s speech. Milton writes:

He now prepar’d

To speak; whereat thir doubl’d Ranks they bend

From wing to wing, and half enclose him round

(Book 1, 615-617)

This introduction to Satan’s motivational speech draws similarities to a team captain, even to the likeness of half enclose him round to a huddle. Team captains are the leaders of teams and motivate the team, which is the same role that Satan has taken on with the fallen angels.

Another important aspect of Satan’s leadership is his courage. A strong leader must have courage to powerfully lead a team through adversity, and Satan is not lacking. The most obvious factor of Satan’s courage is his leadership in the rebellion against God. God is known as all-mighty and all-powerful, and Satan still had the courage to lead his team in battle against him. In Book two, Satan also volunteers to make the voyage to Earth himself, and while Milton portrays the rest of the fallen angels as afraid to make the dangerous journey, he shows Satan as brave and taking the role of leadership to make the journey:

The perilous attempt; but all sat mute,

Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each

In others count’nance read his own dismay

Astonisht: none among the choice and prime

Of those Heav’n-warring Champions could be found

So hardie as to proffer or accept

Alone the dreadful voyage; till at last

Satan, whom now transcendent glory rais’d

bove his fellows, with Monarchal pride

(Book 2, 420-428)

This passage shows yet again how Satan is willing to take leadership for the fallen angels and even do things that the others may be afraid of. Satan is keen for these leadership opportunities and displays his courage by stepping up.

Another aspect of Satan’s leadership that is important to investigate is his loyalty and compassion for the other fallen angels. His sympathy for the other fallen angels is clear, and their loyalty even makes him tear up. Milton shows Satan’s emotion, both with sympathy that he has for the other fallen angels, and his gratefulness of their loyalty. Before one of Satan’s motivational speeches, Milton writes:

Above them all th’ Arch Angel: but his face

Deep scars of Thunder had intrencht, and care

Sat on his faded cheek, but under Browes

Of dauntless courage, and considerate Pride

Waiting revenge: cruel his eye, but cast

Signs of remorse and passion to behold

The fellows of his crime, the followers rather

(Far other once beheld in bliss) condemn’d

For ever now to have thir lot in pain

(Book 1, 600-608)

This passage overall shows Satan in a favorable light, but highlights his care and emotion that he maintains. This gives Satan more human-like qualities in which humans can relate to him closer and look at him in a more favorable light, which is part of Milton’s attempt to not only make Satan a clear leader, but also make him appeal to the audience. His compassion and loyalty to the fallen make him a strong leader because he is able to fight for them and see from their perspective.

Overall, Milton shows Satan as a strong leader and a favorable character. With his motivational ability, courage, loyalty and compassion, Satan is depicted as a powerful leader. This also makes him appeal to the audience because he is leading a team of ?underdogs’, which audiences generally support. All in all, Milton depicts Satan to possess multiple strong leadership qualities.

About John Milton’s Paradise Lost in English literature

John Milton’s Paradise Lost is by far one of the great epics in English literature. Paradise lost was written in the 17th century and was written to model Vergil’s and others epics written throughout history. Paradise Lost was written about the ultimate spiritual battle between good and evil, Milton’s purpose in writing this great epic was to justify God’s ways to humankind.

He wanted people to know that God’s always in control of everything, even when evil looks to be winning it’s only because God allowed it to happen. I chose to write about Paradise Lost because it is based off of the story of creation out of Genesis, but Milton put his own twist on it. Milton chose to tell what heaven was like before man was created and after they were created. He showed the spiritual battle between God, Satan, and the other fallen angels, but he also showed the spiritual battle between man and Satan.

Can the idea of Satan being a true hero be defended? I think that biblically Satan is not a hero by any definition, but he would be a tragic hero in Paradise Lost. Although Satan has some heroic qualities in Paradise Lost, Satan cannot be a true hero because he is the epitome of everything evil. All throughout the bible and history Satan is described as unclean, violent, and malicious. The dictionary defines Satan as a noun meaning- the chief evil spirit, tempter of mankind. ( In Revelation it says So the great dragon was thrown out-the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world.(Rev. 12:9) A similar line can also be found in Paradise Lost after Satan’s disobedience to God he was Hurled headlong flaming from th’ethereal sky.(Book I, Line 45).

Satan would be a tragic hero in Paradise Lost. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a person who must evoke a sense of pity and fear in the audience. He is considered a man of misfortune that comes to him through error of judgment. ( Satan has many characteristics of a tragic hero, some of which are hamartia, hubris, and nemesis to name a few. Hamartia is demonstrated when Satan is thrown from Heaven, he was Him the Almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from th’ethereal sky with hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire, who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.(Book I, line 45) Satan’s pride and disobedience to God is what got him and the other fallen angels he manipulated kicked out of Heaven. Satan said numerous times in Book I of Paradise Lost Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven. (Book I, Line 263) Other heroic qualities of Satan is the way he rally’s his legion of demons and motivates them to continuously rebel and try to take over Heaven. Since the beginning Satan has plotted against everything good and God. Satan’s his pride had him cast out from Heav’n with all his host of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring to set himself in glory above his peers.’ (Book I, Line 36-37) Satan points out multiple times he has no intentions of serving God and that he can make his own Heaven out of Hell. In book I Satan gathers his legions and directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven. (Norton pg. 801) However once Satan learns about God creating man and how man would be special to Him, Satan plotted to destroy them.

Milton’s purpose in writing Paradise Lost was to justify God’s ways to man. In Paradise Lost, Milton showed what Satan intended for bad God turned and used for His good. Satan wanted to defile and destroy God’s creation. John wanted readers to know there are two paths man can take, continue to go down the path of disobedience or to take the path of redemption. God knew man would sin because he gave them free will. And man there placed, with purpose to assay if him by force he can destroy, or, worse, by some false guile pervert, and shall pervert. (Book III, Line 90 -92) In book III Milton wrote about God sitting in Heaven with The Son discussing the effects of Eve’s sin and how He could save men from eternal death. Behold me, then: me for him, life for life, I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me Man: I for his sake will leave. (Book III, Lines 236238)

Milton was not anti-government, but instead encouraged people’s rights. In fact while Milton was traveling and he got word there was a possible civil war starting in England he immediately went back home. I thought it disgraceful while my fellow citizens fought for liberty at home, to be travelling for pleasure abroad. (Milton) After returning home Milton began writing a number of pamphlets where he supported ideals of the Puritan party and strongly opposed the corruptions of the church and state. After Charles I was executed Milton wrote another pamphlet Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. Milton was for electing government rulers and limiting their power through laws. It wasn’t until the monarchy was restored that Milton’s views on government were destroyed. Milton’s view of the monarchy was an epidemic madness and general defection of a misguided and abused multitude. (Milton)

Milton calls upon a Heavenly muse to tell his story. Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire. (Book I, line 5). Milton goes on to tell the muse he wants to create something that’s never been told before, Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. (Book I, line 16). Milton also wants to learn from the muse (the Holy Ghost), he wants to be enlightened where he lacks knowledge and build on strengths, so he can accurately tell what happened.

If God was not a character in Paradise Lost there wouldn’t be a purpose in writing the book, paradise wouldn’t exist. From a biblical standpoint God is the creator of everything, God created the Heavens and the Earth. (Genesis 1:1). So if God wasn’t a character Satan wouldn’t exist either since Satan is a fallen angel from Heaven. There would be no basis for Milton to even write Paradis Lost without God being a major character. Paradise Lost would be completely different because he wouldn’t have to justify God’s ways to man because man would not exist either. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

John Milton is considered one of the greats in English literature, he’s best known for his epic Paradise Lost. Milton was puritan who strongly believed the bibles authority, which is one of his reasoning’s for opposing the monarchy. John went on to write poetry, but also wrote many pamphlets opposing the Church of England and the monarchy.