[Your full name] May 2, 2012 Comparing John Milton's Satan to Dante's Lucifer John Milton’s Paradise Lost is an epic poem, in which he portrays the character of Satan as an embodiment of leadership and authority…
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This paper is a comparison of two characters: John Milton’s Satan and Dante Alighieri’s Lucifer. The thesis statement that carries this paper toward a direction is that: Milton’s Satan is an embodiment of power, heroism and leadership; while, Dante’s Lucifer is powerless, dull and uninteresting. Paradise Lost is one of the greatest masterpieces of John Milton’s, which has been studied, criticized, and evaluated in every period of time since it was written. The character of Satan has been evaluated in different regards, mainly claimed as being the most convoluted and dynamic character in literature. In Milton’s text, Satan is shown as possessing a sense of havoc, chaos, and wreck. The reader is never clear whom Milton is justifying as being innocent: Satan, or Adam and Eve. Flannagan (26) writes in his book that many romantic critics believe that Milton is unknowingly in the devil’s party, as he portrays Satan as the most powerful character throughout the story, seducing us into following his leadership when, for example, he is shown arguing with Areopagitica, or when he chooses to speak truth for a moment. The reader ends up sympathizing with the Satan in the minutest of feeling, in addition to the greatness of Shakespearean acting in his character. Ruth and Milton (15) write, “Milton’s appealing delineation of Satan’s character, some commentators say, forces the reader to sympathize and identify with the fallen archangel just as Milton himself does.” Satan is shown on a hot lake of molten lava in Hell, and weeping at a point later, which are the sites the reader empathizes with him at. The energy that comes out of his character while he is in the Hell, and while he plans the whole story against Adam and Eve, makes his character so magnificent that no other character in the story can beat. God, in comparison, has been portrayed as an uninteresting character in Paradise Lost- something that the Satan convinces the reader to believe in Book 3, while behaving like a naive victim all the way. At least this is the perception the reader conceives when he reads the Satan’s fervent dialogues and their contagious rhetoric throughout the storyline. His speeches are as weird as the disguise he adopts to entice Eve to eat the Forbidden Tree; that is, the serpent that is clever, sharp, quick, smart, and vengeful. Carrying angelic features and possessing potent weapons, Satan is shown as an embodiment of authority, power, control, and leadership. He is the leader of the fallen angels, sharing with them the plan to leave the Hell for a quest based on vengeance. Critics and reviewers have agreed upon the heroic aspect of Satan in Paradise Lost; for example, Brackett (313) writes that Milton has shown Satan as such a “clearly and dramatically drawn figure that many post-romanticism readers viewed him as a heroic figure, a Byronic hero of sorts…as Satan proudly declares his preference for the position of ruler of hell to servant in heaven.” Hence, the heroic and leadership incarnation of Satan’s character in Paradise Lost shows Milton’s idea of sin that has been discussed many a times by critiques later on. It is also important to discuss how Milton has expressed Satan’s persona of heroism and leadership in his work. Satan is proud of his army that he thinks is so powerful that repulse can never be known.
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