The Role of Satan in Paradise Lost

1455 Words Oct 16th, 2010 6 Pages
The Role of Satan in “Paradise Lost”
John Milton's epic “Paradise Lost” is one that has brought about much debate since its writing. This epic tells the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, although from a different perspective than what most people usually see. Milton tells the story more through the eyes of Satan, whom most people usually consider the ultimate villain. The way in which Satan is portrayed in this story has caused speculation as to whether Satan is actually a hero in this situation. He certainly has heroic qualities throughout the story, yet still is ultimately responsible for Adam and Eve's sin. Satan can easily be classified as a hero in this story, as well as the main antagonist, depending on the viewpoint of the
…show more content…
The character of Satan in this story can also be related to other tragic heroes throughout history.
He is a variant of Achilles, who equates honor with his own status...and feels slighted by his commander-in-chief, refuses his orders and believes himself superior. Both epics turn on the connection between 'a sense of injur'd merit' and the hero's wrath. He is Odysseus and Jason on their heroic voyages, leader and chief warrior in battle during and after the War in Heaven, and through it all the most powerful speaker, able to rally and organize his troops with the eloquence of his appeals to their own heroic values. (Forsyth 30).

While many arguments can be made to defend Satan as the hero of this story, his power clearly declines throughout the poem. In the end, he does not achieve his goal. Satan is “bitter, but also acknowledges the reality of his circumstances” (Smith). We see Satan reach his peak, then his power gently declines by the end of the story. Although Satan is powerful and persevering, he is no match for God. We begin to see more of his flaws. Satan is undoubtedly charismatic and persuasive in his speeches, as well as a powerful military leader, yet he seems to be somewhat hypocritical as well. For example, when we are first introduced to Satan, he tells his followers not to be afraid, yet he is afraid himself. Some might view this as Satan being brave, but this could also be viewed as him being deceptive, which illustrates how he
Open Document