Discuss Milton’s presentation of Satan in Paradise Lost Essay

2739 Words 11 Pages
Discuss Milton’s presentation of Satan in Paradise Lost

There has been considerable critical interest in the figure of Satan in Paradise Lost, and in the possibility that he may be the true hero of the epic poem. The opening of the poem finds Milton in a tough spot: writing an epic poem without an epic hero in sight. In order to achieve a rationally balanced poem, he wants to let the first half rise from Hell through Chaos and towards Heaven, thereby balancing the fall of humankind in the following Garden scenes. Since Satan is the only point of view
(other than God above) that witnesses all of these early scenes, he must be transformed into the hero for the first few books. Besides allowing Milton to add new scenes to the story
…show more content…
For example in Book I line 118, Satan speaks of having learned from experience, and from profiting from that experience in future actions. We are accustomed to this
Period Pieces Imran Hussain process in our lives, but we may easily fail to see that Satan’s experience and his capacity to learn from it is intimately linked with his fallen state.

Satan seems to be like us because he demonstrates aspects of being fallen, as humans do.
Another characteristic of Satan which is particularly evident in the opening two books of the poem is his desire to rouse his fallen troops through flattery, adulation and by painting for them a more positive picture of what they have just experienced than is strictly true. S.A.J. Bradley (1982: P.12) in his introduction to his translation of Genesis B says of the relationship between Genesis B and Paradise
Lost: ‘Both poets as a direct consequence for opting for an epic heroic genre, risk counterproductively investing the rebel angel with an admirable dignity and heroic appeal which are inherent in the traditional diction and manner of the genre’. We should note Bradley’s reference here to the ‘opting’, that is making a choice: it is all too easy to forget that Paradise Lost is the product of much deliberate choice on
Milton’s part. Bradley goes on to
Open Document