Fall from Grace: Satan as a Spiritually Corrupt Hero in Milton's Paradise Lost
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Fall From Grace: Satan as a Spiritually Corrupt Hero in Milton's Paradise Lost
Can Satan -- a being, so evil that even as an Ethereal being of Heaven, who was cast out of God's grace - be a hero? John Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost is very much a romanticized character within the epic poem, and there has been much debate since the poem's publishing in 1667 over Milton's sentiments and whether Satan is the protagonist or a hero. As an angel in God the Father's Heaven, Satan rose up with a group of following of one-third of all of Heaven's angels and tried to unseat Jehovah from His station as the Divine Ruler. God cast Satan and the other rebellious angels out of Heaven and eternally damned them to Hell and to morph into demonic…show more content…
Satan is a hero by each of these definitions as defined through his war against God, his cunning and guile, his journey to Eden on Earth to corrupt mankind, and as the protagonist and most described character in Milton's epic poem. These definitions only scratch the surface of a hero, however, and could easily be countered simply by saying that Satan is a creature of pure evil who exhibits no admirable qualities, is ignoble down to the core in everything he has done - especially including his war against God - and that he is not the protagonist of Paradise Lost, but rather he is the antagonist who creates the conflict.
In a more in-depth analysis of a hero, Joseph Campbell briefly defines a hero as "someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself"(p143) in his book The Power of Myth. Some of the aspects of a hero as explained in The Power of Myth include a "call to adventure", "supernatural aid", "crossing the threshold", "brother battle", and "ritual death." Satan's experiences in Paradise Lost clearly show how he has each of the characteristics of a hero according to Campbell. Satan's journey to Eden to corrupt Eve is obviously his "call to adventure." "Supernatural aid" is somewhat broader, since Satan is of a supernatural existence - he was born of Ethereal existence as an angel - but Sin and Death, Satan's children, do assist Satan in making his way to Earth and in their corruption