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The Character of Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost - Research Paper Example

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Institution Course Date Milton’s Satan as the Hero in Paradise Lost Introduction The idea of a heroic Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost has sparked an intense debate among literary critics since its publication in 1667 (Steadman, 1976). Some critics have for the most part described Satan as a “classical villain” as opposed to a “classical hero” (Calloway, 2005, p…
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The Character of Satan in Miltons Paradise Lost
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Download file to see previous pages 161). It can therefore be concluded that the idea of Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost is ambiguous. The main question is whether or not Milton intended to present Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost. It is argued that Milton went to great lengths to demonize Satan, reducing him to non-human form by vilifying him to a serpent. Milton therefore intended to portray Satan as an anti-hero rather than a hero. Historical Background John Milton Paradise Lost was published at a time when literary themes were biblically “inspired” and “informed” (Porter, 2007, p. 205). At the time of publication, there was a Puritan “revolutionary fervor” brewing in England with Puritans looking forward to the second coming of Christ (Werner, 1986, p. 115). Milton’s Paradise Lost was therefore written prior to the Puritan revolution and at a time of optimistic contemplation (Werner, 1986). It therefore follows that Paradise Lost was written to inspire optimism in the divine order, and as such, Satan could not have been intended by Milton to be a hero. A heroic Satan would have compromised the Puritan optimism and the prevailing confidence in the divine order. ...
Book I introduced the reader to Satan in his fallen state having been exiled from heaven. A confused Satan awakens in hell with his accomplices who had collectively disobeyed God and fought for control of heaven and lost (Milton, 2000). It is only in the opening passage of Book I of Paradise Lost, that it might be implied that Milton may have intended to represent Satan as a fallen hero who had revolted against the divine order, bringing about his fall. Certainly, prior to his fall, Satan was obviously of a status that was good enough to judge him and thus bring about a degradation in status (Bell, 1953, p. 863). Rather than seek to make amends and forgiveness, the fallen Satan contemplates his fate and becomes resolved in his revolt against the divine order. The reader is thus informed: All is not lost; the unconquerable Will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield (Milton, 2000, p. 15, Lines 106-109). Milton therefore sets the tone early on in establishing he never intended to portray Satan as anything more than an antagonist. It can be argued that the divine order comes across as entirely tyrannical and coercive and therefore deserving of the kind of revolt orchestrated by Satan. However, it must be remembered that Milton’s representation of Satan and the divine order was informed by the Bible. The Bible, despite its representations of God and Christ as decidedly autonomous, the Bible intended that God be viewed as all things just and good. Therefore, if Milton is informed by the Bible and Puritan values, he certainly did not intend God and Christ be viewed differently. By analogy, Milton would not want to present Satan as a victim of a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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