Discussion Of Satan’s Character From Milton’s “Paradise Lost” As an Anti-hero
Satan’s Address To Beelzebub
And thence in Heav’n call’d Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence thus began.
If thou beest he; But O how fall’n! How chang’d
From him, who in the happy Realms of Light
Cloth’d with transcendent brightness didst out-shine
Myriads though bright: If he whom mutual league,
United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
And hazard in the Glorious Enterprize,
Joynd with me once, now misery hath joynd
In equal ruin: into what Pit thou seest
From what highth fall’n, so much the stronger prov’d
He with his Thunder: and till then who knew
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,
Though chang’d in outward lustre; that fixt mind
And high disdain, from sence of injur’d merit,
That with the mightiest rais’d me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of Spirits arm’d
That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos’d
In dubious Battel on the Plains of Heav’n,
And shook his throne.
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,
Who from the terrour of this Arm so late
Doubted his Empire, that were low indeed,
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall; since by Fate the strength of Gods
And this Empyreal substance cannot fail,
Since through experience of this great event
In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanc’t,
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal Warr
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav’n.”
In speech one John Milton has represented Satan as a mighty figure who allures and repels equally. He refuses to admit his defeat and wants to chase what he believes in. Before the speech begins, Satan found himself lying next to Beelzebub. Beelzebub is a representation of Satan’s companion who is believed to be one of the seven princes of hell and is known as the lord of flyers.
Satan begins his speech by showing Expressions of shock and sorrow at the sight of his fallen mate. One can easily mistakes Satan as hero because of his impactful speeches that he has made to his companions. The display of Satan’s greatness and nobility in Milton’s work creates pity in readers mind as it denies his knowledge of Satan as evil. Satan’s first speech shows his leadership qualities as he emboldens and harmonizes with his companions with bold words.
In the first line Satan compares Beelzebub new condition to his previous more splendid self. Satan’s way of speaking refers to reminiscence that gives the idea of calling something to mind. By remembering Beelzebub previous glory, Satan guarantees his status as a trustworthy companion. With this Satan also reminds Beelzebub of their common cause. He focuses on the problems that is shared between them. The exclamation “but o How fallen how changed” helps Satan play the role of a worried friend. Satan uses a language that is embellished enough to hide his selfishness and causes persuasion in his companion’s mind. As we read on we find that Satan wants Beelzebub on his during the discussion between the falling angles. Further he calls heaven as “the happy realms of light”. It shows Satan’s rebellious character. Satan spends first part of his utterance persuading his companion. He takes pity on the change in his friend’s condition. Later on, he refers to their friendship of risky companionship in heaven and now in their present wretchedness. Satan describes “equal hope, and hazard in glorious enterprize”. The alliteration between H sounds in this phrase emphasizes the equality between words hope and hazard. It also shows the extra additional word equal when there is alliteration in words he wants to equate. This may represent excessiveness. It reveals a character flaw that Satan is someone who will embellish his language in order to abandon the moral aspects.
By analyzing first few lines of the speech it is obvious that Satan’s words are great, arousing and are repeated often. He begins by establishing his character as a heroic figure who has the courage to dare, grandeur of sufferance and leadership qualities. Then proceeds with thoughtful discourse and ends with attention on sentimental accuses.
In the next lines Satan starts his speech by representing himself as a strong and a powerful character and uses words that are evoking and triggering and often repeated. He has represented himself as a character who has bravery, boldness and courage to challenge. Then he continues with thoughtful conversation and further ends with emotional condemns.
Satan’s unapologetic, devious nature is persistent. Even after being defeated, he remains stubborn and is not ready to accept any changes rather he forces his evil companions that their charm and gratification is in doing bad. He further clarifies to Beelzebub that he wants to divert people from God’s will and help them carve evil out of good. Continuing his conversation, he says that his
powers won’t be sufficient enough to oppose the devastating and immense power of God. As in the line, “so much the stronger prov’d, He with his Thunder” he says that God has an overwhelming power and is much stronger than me and he doesn’t have a fair competitor as his competitor is much stronger in all ways than him. Again in lines, “The force of those dire arms” he says that he didn’t knew before the competition that the opponent would be so strong otherwise they would have planned correspondingly. In the lines, “that fixt mind, and high disdain, from sence of injur’d merit, that with the mightiest rais’d me to contend” he continues by accusing God for his proud and rebellious character. He thinks that his freedom is equally important to God’s will and he better be the majesty in hell rather than slave in heaven.
Hence, keeping in mind the above characteristics, Satan’s character can be deduced as antihero because of his arrogant and ambitious nature which leads him to succeed in spreading evil around the world. He is also determined in doing whatever is his job either good or bad and continuously motivating his fellows.
Furthermore, the two main concepts illustrated by Milton are Satan’s insistence upon his will of independency and secondly his devotion to take revenge combined with hatred. There are evidences in the text that gives information that Satan is playing the role of ANTI-HERO in his speech though at times Satan appears as a HERO; protagonist but still than he does not have the qualities a classical hero should have as he is the portrayal of good and evil at the same time.
Satan is very much proud about his powers and about his companions that they choose him rather than to be with the most powerful God. Though he is satisfied but still praises the powers and the victory of God, but still than he has the negativity behind. The way Milton wrote the words of Satan are so much in balance between selflessness and selfishness.
“What though the field be lost?” – show that Satan might accept his defeat and his failure but it’s not. How Milton wrote the next line is so beautifully structured as “All is not lost” – these words shows the reason behind his rebellion. He is shown very much determined to fight for his rights and the rights of his companion angles, his equal place with God but still in the negative way, he has all the bad ideas and evil thoughts in his minds, his soul purpose is destruction and claiming his position. These features are meant only for the anti-hero.
Also “And study of revenge, immortal hate” – his commitment towards revenge and his hate that is never going to fade away clearly pictures Satan as an anti-hero. A hero on the other hand wants success but through just means.
“And courage never to submit or yield;” – shows Satan’s determination towards fight that he is courageous enough and addressing to the fallen angels as well to stay determined. Satan has some clear motives behind his revenge. As a leader Satan does pay respect to the qualities of Satan. And as well as shown as a great leader by submission of courage but still than he is an ANTI-HERO because of both good and bad qualities. As an anti-hero he has the qualities of being cruel, rude, having envy, constant hate, and desire to achieve something by any means whether just or unjust.
For some he might be a hero because of his leadership qualities, his courage and somehow remorse quality make him more humanlike, a hero. All these qualities are of a hero but Satan has them with negativity in it and so my argument rests; Satan is acting like an ANTI-HERO.
In the following lines of the “Paradise Lost” by Milton Satan’s character is being depicted as an Anti-hero. Anti-hero is the one having both the characteristic of a hero and a villain. He is depicted as an Anti-hero because as we know that a hero is always courageous, good and helpful to others. In the beginning he points towards his unremarkable strength in a more proud manner and is pitting himself against an unjust God. The towering aspect which distinguished him as a hero is his pride and study of his revenge. He challenges the very nature of the universe and was feeling proud on his act of challenging and disobeying the superior power. Such characteristics don’t fulfils the requirement of the definition of a hero as he was doing all this not for the sake of others benefit but he just wants revolt against God in order to fulfill his lust for power. Satan was shown as morally degraded figure because his character degenerates and he fails to produce heroic impression. Satan was an emotionally complex character he just examine everything in terms of what will happen and his such interest turn on his personal desires and due to such false preferences he didn’t fit completely in the definition of a hero but can be regarded as a tragic hero because he pretends to be great but always destined to fail. As he was an Anti-hero so he has some of the qualities of a villain too which shows that he was a witch character and is personified of evil just considering his desires and preferences. His hostility to Almighty power is ultimately a futile endeavor. He just blames God’s strength without any reason rather than commenting on his lead he refuses to accept his defeat by putting forward excuses and continuously blaming God’s power.
These are the specifications which depicts Satan as an Anti-hero in the respective lines. In the next lines of Satan’s speech may confess you to believe him as a strong, effective and attractive personality. He might appear as a protagonist but he is an antihero who can’t bare his defeat. In these lines in which he addresses Beelzebub shows his anger of being defeated by God.
Milton shows Satan’s character as a contrast between good and evil as some people perceive him as a strong speaker while others as a negative entity who is misleading people through his strong speeches. In line 36 people as readers may perceive him as if he is praising God and calling heaven an undefeatable thing but actually he is calling himself a heavenly substance and undetectable entity.
“And this empyreal substance cannot fail” – He can’t bare his defeat that is why he is saying that through this great event he is able to plan his revenge. He shows an angle of hope to get the revenge and a chance of getting success. Some people perceive him as an embodiment of hope but he shows his will to take revenge and defeat God.
“Since through experience of this great event
In arms not worse, in foresight not advanc’t
We may with more successful hope resolve” – He is ready for an immortal war and considers himself as a soldier who will fight till getting success that is why he is still misleading people from faith by force and his strong speeches.
“To wage by force or guile eternal warr””
In next lines he clearly mentions God as his enemy and shows his rebellious and antagonistic nature. He says that God is my enemy and He has defeated me and is happy on my failure and His own success.
“Irreconcileable, to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy,””
In the last line of his address he says that only authority holds the lord of heaven and somehow he is willing to get that authority to hold the tyranny of heaven.
“Sole reigning holds the tyranny of heaven”
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