The classical description of a hero does not make it easy for readers to compare Satan’s character in Paradise Lost to a heroic figure. The definition of a hero is usually a man, who is essentially good, and faces difficult challenges and successfully overcomes difficulties. Of course, Satan’s true motives also make him less heroic, but in Milton’s poem the definition of a hero is challenged by Satan’s and by God’s character as well. In Susan Henthorne’s article on Paradise Lost she states, “The characteristics of God and Satan are problematic,” in that “God can seem as tyrannical and cruel...” and “Satan with his fallen nature, is easier to understand” (Enthrone). The traditional definition of a hero contradicts God’s characteristics in that they appear anti-heroic. Milton’s God is portrayed as a powerful ruler who bestows his blessings to those who follow him and eternal damnation to those who do not. When Satan questions God’s will Satan is thrown out of heaven and this act shows that God is capable vengeful anger. God’s unfriendly, distance, and wrathful characteristics makes Satan’s character even more appealing, seen as a heroic figure, and readers
Satan’s fall can be easily broken up into four steps: he came to think of himself too highly, putting himself equal to God; he made a following for himself; he plotted a rebellion with his fellow rebel angels; and he attempted to carry out the rebellion. His attempt to overthrow God and obtain power was, however, futile and easily thwarted. Satan was severely demoted and he spent the rest of the plot trying to pervert every good thing as if it would be to any avail to do so. He attempted to exert his own powers over creation and tried to get a foothold so that he could gain more power. His extreme arrogance led to his fall from grace. “This is the same willfulness which lies behind his rebellious claim in heaven that he is ‘self-begot’…What Satan the general refuses to give up here…is…individual glory, which he pursues at all costs.” (Loewenstein, 56-57). Considering that Satan was an angel in the presence of God at the beginning, he had no excuse such as ignorance to claim. Satan’s rebellion began within himself with little else to prompt him. Satan had the ambition to raise a rebel force, but army or no army, he surely would have thought himself more powerful than he ought have. His pride also got in the way of him ever being restored to his former position. “As part of his task of exculpating God…Satan explains that even if he could repent and get back to heaven ‘by act of grace’, it would do
In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the parallelism between Satan and Eve’s fall is strong in that they were once both the highest before pure perfection. Lucifer is associated with evil, which stems from his free will leading to his rebellion against God and, ultimately, his great fall. He is known as the one who introduces sin to Adam and Eve – the first humans to ever exist. His plan to go against God is the beginning of a whole new world to the universe and a whole new significance of himself as the one known for human error and evil. Eve, “the mother of human race,” is Satan’s target to pull her down to his world of sin because she also wishes to become independent of Adam making her susceptible to anything that can separate her from
Through his work of Paradise Lost, Milton exposes his view that God allows suffering in order for a greater good of the human race to exist. Milton uses the Fall- both Satan’s and Adam and Eve’s- as a device to demonstrate human corruption, as each fall is “a step down from a higher being to a lower being”. Both the Fall of Satan and the Fall of Adam & Eve are falls away from a position of divine power to a position of chaos and disorder- something Milton illustrates as an undesirable event. Milton introduces Satan as a selfish, power-hungry character; similar to an individual of today’s society who believes they are the greatest- nobody can ‘one-up’ them. He inherently denies of the existence of a greater God, as that would discredit his own belief that he is the utmost being. Instead of blind denial, Satan instead builds up a power against God himself, in an effort to “contest the throne of Heaven” (slide). However, this in of itself is a hypocrisy on his own beliefs, as he cannot be autonomous in a search for autonomy, since he is unable to defeat God on his own. This is Satan’s first fall, because he has now relinquished his stance on denying a being greater than himself, and must maintain his uprising unless he wants to face what Milton would consider a second Fall. Milton uses Satan as a representation of disobedience within the human race; he is the ‘wrong direction’ in the two paths of moral decisions. He uses Satan to show that rebellion that stems from self-
The novel, Evidence of Satan in the Modern World, is about proof that the Devil exists and that he continues to have a presence in the modern world world even in the 1950s. The novel continues to display examples of possession and infestation of the Devil with many different types of people throughout the 1800s all the way to the mid 1900s. The novel, explained their actions with the presence of Satan, how each person dealt with it, and how it was treated. One main point about the novel is the facts of possession and how to treat it. Firstly, someone who is possessed will have a knowledge of hidden facts (155). An example of this is the case of the Cure d’ars because the novel explains that the Cure explained things to people that he could
Satan goes from the most beautiful to the ugliest because of his defiance. John Carrey speaks of Milton’s Satan saying “Satan as archangel, before his fall, is never shown by Milton, but this stage of his existence is often alluded to, as is the fact that some of his archangelic power powers remain, though we cannot be quite sure which. Hence Satan, as a fictional character, gains a hidden dimension and a ‘past’” (133). We know Satan has a past, it is just not presented by Milton. Satan once lived in a universe full of happiness, joy, and eternal glorification and was known in
In Milton's Paradise Lost, he writes the story of the fall of Satan, his followers, and mankind. Many critics often view Satan as the unlikely or tragic hero of the epic poem. Satan is, obviously, the main character throughout most of the poem, but not necessarily the hero. Satan's main purpose is to fight G-d, and try to be on the same level as Him. The important thing is to realize that Satan is sin, and being humans, who are all born into sin, we can easily relate to a sinful character. G-d is holy and perfect. This is something which we, being fallible humans, cannot begin to comprehend. Satan does, at the beginning, follow many of the attributes which coincide with Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero; however, after the
Satan was unwilling to back down, no matter how great God’s power. This mission stands out as an element of the epic hero. In almost all epics written the hero has to stifle past guarded boundaries in order to complete goals. Satan’s bravery in trying to learn answers concerning his existence in heaven and his damnation to Hell is noble. Determination to derive truth is an admirable quality. Though his bitterness creates negative characteristics, his core purpose is not entirely blasphemous. He considers all that is placed before him and says in book 1, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” (263). He knows that Hell is a place of doom and torture, but he is committed to living there with dignity and hopes to eventually rise above the creator and gain back what he feels he is entitled to as a living being. This acceptance of his conditions and determination to overcome makes him the underdog that an audience cannot help but root for. Everyone knows what it’s like to be in dark place with no visible escape. People want to be able to relate to a character that remains hopeful. In this sense Satan seems very heroic and critics have even gone as far as interpreting God as the villain.
When a person hears Satan, a streak of fear, and the thought of evil arises. People fear Satan, and think of him as evil, but in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, he displays a thought of the Father being the evil being, and Satan a tragic hero. In Paradise Lost, Book 1 and 2, the minor areas where God is shown, He is displayed as hypocritical. He contradicts himself by creating the humans to be of free will, but when Satan displays free will, he is shunned. Satan could be described in many terms, and by many people, but all can be disputed. According to my sources, Satan is displayed as the hero, while God is the evil deity, and Milton was wrong for writing Him as so. In this essay, I will show my thoughts on the subject of Satan as an evil
Satan's primary operational problem in Paradise Lost is his lack of obedience. The fundamental misunderstanding which leads to Satan's disobedience is his separation of free will from God's hierarchical power. In the angel Raphael's account, Satan tells his dominions, "Orders and Degrees/Jarr not with liberty" (5.792-93). Tempting as this differentiation seems, Satan is mistaken. Free will and hierarchical power are not mutually exclusive, as Satan suggests, but overlapping concepts. Even though Satan has been created with sufficient freedom to choose to disobey, he tacitly acknowledges God's sovereignty when he exercises his choice. Satan is constrained existentially, from the outset, by
Paradise Lost is a story of Genesis told as it normally would be, but with a protagonist focus on Satan. The story is told largely with Satan being favorably portrayed and God having little presence other than cursing things, which convinces the audience that Satan’s view of God as a tyrant may not be too far off. Still, Satan is portrayed as the villain of the story. However, he has characteristics of a classical hero; including flaws that make the audience relate to and feel sympathy for him. By using part of the black-and-white Genesis story which paints Satan as evil and juxtaposing a narrative which paints Satan as a sympathetic hero, Milton raises a question about morality that largely define the audience’s reaction to the story:
Overall I think in the poem “Paradise Lost” Satan’s character was meant to be more attractive to the readers so they would also be seduced by his ways. His character was meant to be more liked then he usually is in things such as the Bible. He was not necessarily meant to be looked at as the hero, but he was described in such a way that it tempted the readers to like him. Just like Satan lured people in and made them do the wrong things Milton lured in his readers to like Satan. He did such a great job that I felt sorry for Satan. But he also made us see everything from Satan view. Which basically
As Satan later claims, “To reign is worth ambition .. /Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” (PL, I: 262-63, p.156) His statement suggests that his fatal flaw might be his ambition, his desire to become even more powerful than he once was. This image of Satan having a 'fatal flaw', something that drives him into destruction, connects him with the idea of Aristotle's hamartia, and connects him to the imagery of the other a 'good person' who has fallen from grace, but is nonetheless a hero. Satan is also connected to Aristotle's idea that “heroic virtue is superhuman, godlike, and divine”5, when he is described to be “stretched out huge in length” (PL, I: 209, p.155) across the lake, further imprinting the image of his heroic status.
Satan is indeed “Hurled headlong flaming from th’ethereal sky” (Book I, line 45) and into Hell where he will live in fire. But as a leader, and a true protagonist, Satan chooses to accept his situation and rise as a hero for the pack of fallen angels he has led from Heaven. Even if God is his enemy, at least he is not serving anyone. He possesses his own heaven now, though not joyful and happy as the heaven he was just expelled from, “Farewell happy fields/Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors, hail/Infernal world, …/ Receive thy new possessor” (Book I, lines 249-253). Satan makes Hell his Heaven with his mind, as he says, “The mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n” (Book I, lines 254-255). Satan acknowledges that he has made a Hell of his previous Heaven, but he also uses that reasoning to make Hell into his own Heaven. His anti-heroic qualities are apparent, though, when he tells his followers in Book I, “To do aught good never will be our task/ But ever to do ill our soul delight” (lines 159-160). It cannot be forgotten that Satan is evil by his creation and through his free will. God created Satan with all of his imperfections but makes it clear that he had a choice by
Because of the strict rule of God in this situation, Satan's rebellion is made to seem heroic. He is standing up against the rule of a tyrant, and helping and encouraging others to do the same. Part of the reason Satan in considered such a good leader in this story is because of his ability to persuade his followers through his