John Milton Essays

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Satan, as a character, has been satirized, mocked and made foolish in our modern world. John Milton, however, presents quite a different Satan from the devil-on-your-shoulder image people are used to seeing. In Paradise Lost, Milton draws on the Bible for his source of Satan’s character, thereby creating a horrifyingly corrupt Satan. Despite this portrayal, readers often find themselves sympathizing with Satan’s cause, and his determination, viewing him as a hero for his cause, as evidenced by his long, brave speeches. Later, however Satan’s speeches begin to show signs of regret, making the reader question their initial reaction to him. In the end the image of Satan is further skewed by his own incriminating speech. Thus, the speeches of…show more content…
He says:

how glorious once above thy sphere; Till pride and worse ambition threw me down Warring in Heav’n against Heav’n’s matchless King: Ah Wherefore! he deserved no such return From me, whom he created what I was In that bright eminence, and with his good Upbraided non, nor was his service hard (4.39-45)

Looking back, Satan sees that his actions against God were not fully justified. He recalls how glorious things were, even calling God the “matchless King”. He further decides that things were better than he thought, noting that the service was not bad, and that he probably owed service to God for creating him. After thinking about this, though, Satan attempts to justify his actions by saying “O had his powerful destiny ordained/ Me some inferior angel, I had stood/ Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised/ Ambition”(4.58-61)”. Satan feels that it was his prominent position that forced him to become so ambitious, and that none of these feelings would have emerged if he had been a lesser angel.

This inner battle leads the reader to become slightly suspicious about Satan’s description of himself in earlier books, and their own interpretation of his earlier words. It becomes difficult to view Satan as a hero, when his own words call into doubt everything for which he stands. While Satan’s ultimate decision is to carry through with his plan, the reader is invited to look through this decision,

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