Tool of the Devil: Comparing Satan in Paradise Lost and the Golden Compass

2369 Words Apr 5th, 2005 10 Pages
The devil, in literature, is always a catalyst of change for those who encounter him. He is a force working underground, moving against what is widely considered virtuous and good, and it is contact with him that often changes the course of characters lives, and even the world. In Paradise Lost and a book based on it, The Golden Compass, ‘the devil', in both cases, is an advocate for moving away from the control of God and the Church. Where the stories differ, is in the author's intent for these actions. In the former, John Milton uses the devil to display how vanity and pride are the sins that halt us in an opportunity to live blissfully, with and under God. Philip Pullman, in his twist on Paradise Lost, The Golden Compass, claims that …show more content…
he is also attempting to emulate the Father" (Bryson, 97). He battles "exalted as a God, Th‘ Apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat, Idol of majesty divine" (Milton, BK VI, 99-101). Lewis also claims that Milton wrote Satan to be intentionally skimming the edge of farce as "we know from his prose works that he believed everything detestable to be, in the long run, also ridiculous" ( CS Lewis XIII 95). As Milton was a devoutly religious man, it is possible to see how Satan's attempts to overthrow God would be so offensive, they would become absurd. Pullman, on the other hand, writes Lord Asriel with not the slightest trace of humor within his character. He is a dark, deceptive man, whose arrogance concerning himself and his beliefs have resulted in a man who knows no boundaries. Even his own daughter, is frightened and chilled by his infinite drive.
"Her father was lying back in his chair, lazy and powerful, his eyes as fierce as his daemon's. She didn't love him, she couldn't trust him, but she had to admire him, and the extravagant luxury he'd assembled in his desolate wasteland, and the power of his ambition" (Pullman, 330).
Lord Asriel, while not technically "the Devil" by any means, becomes a more chilling character, as his passion is unwavering and he holds his views with the utmost importance. It is through the exploitation of innocence and ignorance that Satan and Lord Asriel achieve their goals. They
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