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Satan as an Antihero in John Milton's Paradise Lost - Essay Example

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Instructor Date Satan as an anti-hero in John Milton’s Paradise Lost Paradise Lost is a poem, epic in nature, written by the English poet John Milton. It was first published in 1667 and has been succeeded by more publications. It borrows its plot from the story of the Fall of Man in the Genesis’ biblical story of creation…
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Satan as an Antihero in John Miltons Paradise Lost
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Download file to see previous pages However, the remaining books show the exact opposite of this. Interestingly, Milton’s descriptions in Paradise Lost have been interpreted by many critics as a form of questioning the powers of the church. The critics have based their assumption on the fact that this was one of the major themes during the English Renaissance. For such critics, the poem has so little to do with the mere description of the Fall of Man (Carter and McRae 132). Apart from a thorough theodicy within the poem, Milton has also handled a number of social issues, which include marriage and politics. Milton may have been influenced by his active political participation in the English Civil War, to include politics as one of his thematic concerns. This poem is very informative as it covers other theological issues like fate, trinity, and even predestination. In addition, it tries to give more insight into how sin and death were introduced into the world, and also the nature of all angels, Satan, and the kind of war that exists in Heaven (Carter and McRae 132). Perhaps, the most controversial issue in the poem is whether Milton’s Satan character is an epic hero or the anti-hero (Steadman 253). My essay seeks to look into the facts that portray Satan as the hero in the poem, as well as those which state otherwise. However, the purpose for writing this essay is to clearly prove that the character Satan is indeed an anti-hero in Paradise Lost. At the beginning of the poem a reader cannot help but to believe that Milton is trying to portray Satan as the epic hero of the poem. Most critics, including William Blake, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, have argued that Satan is indeed the hero. In fact, Blake states that Milton “wrote in fetters when (he) wrote of angels and God, at liberty when of devils and Hell, [because] he was a true poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it” (qtd. in Carey 132). The idea of Satan being the hero may be true if we consider the first two books of the poem. The two books frequently portray Satan as fighting for liberty, and also as a very brave character, especially if we consider his actions. His speeches to fellow Fallen Angels show him as a very brave leader who works so hard to marshal the support of his people against the ill-treatment in the hands of the ‘unjust’ God. Some of his phrases that may be considered heroic are “a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n” (Milton 1:255) and “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n” (Milton 1:263). Moreover, the fact that Satan is the first of Milton’s characters to be mentioned in the poem, and a big deal of treatment he is given within the Medias res, makes him a heroic figure. Satan also seems to have been given a relatively rare opportunity to speak his mind out in his various speeches, and this has worked so well to portray him as a hero. It has not only made Satan a comprehensible character, but it has also made him an acceptable one. He goes on to voluntarily leave Hell on a mission to fight for the rights of his peers. Being a true hero, many people think he is, he is offering himself as a sacrifice for the peers. This can be found in “That for the general safety he despised / His own” (Milton 2:481-482). Another factor that makes many people to see Satan as the epic hero in Paradise Lost is the fact that Milton tells the story from the Satan’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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