October 2, 2017
John Milton wrote “Paradise Lost”, an epic about the struggle between good and evil, or Heaven and Hell. Book 1 of the epic starts after Satan and his followers get cast down from Heaven to a place known as Chaos. The rest of Book 1 introduces Satan, his followers, and sets the rest of the epic up for Satan’s revenge. “Paradise Lost” is a criticism of the English people’s idea of what is admirable through Milton’s depiction of Satan as a hero, which has implications for the monarchy, under the reign of King Charles.
Traditionally, a hero is a person who is powerful in strength and ability. According to this epic, Satan encompasses all of these characteristics. Satan is described as being of “monstrous size” (Milton 197) and “mighty stature” (Milton 222). A typical literary hero is someone who is big and strong, which is exactly what these lines describe. To further drive home that Satan is powerful, he and his comrades escape from the fiery pit of Chaos “As gods, and by their own recovered strength/ Not by the sufferance of supernal power” (Milton 240-241). It is made clear that after being cast down to Heaven, Satan and his followers regained their strength to escape, which had absolutely nothing to do with God’s plan. In a way, this depicts the fallen angels as just as powerful as God.
A hero is someone who is strong in battle, has a strong military, and is the leader. Book 1 begins after the battle between Satan and God has occurred, but it is depicted as a very close battle in which God almost was defeated. In reflection of the battle, Milton writes, “But what if he our conqueror (whom I now/ Of force believe almighty, since no less/ Than such could have overpow’red such force as ours)” (143-146). Not only did God barely win, but God is the only one who could ever defeat Satan and his army. Reiterating this idea, Satan is the “Leader of those armies bright,/ Which but th’ Omnipotent none could have foiled” (Milton 272-273). Not only is Satan’s army more powerful than anyone other than God himself, but Satan is the leader. Milton additionally includes a catalogue of all the demigods that make up the army to prove just how strong the army is. Satan is the leader of a powerful army, who is relatively strong in battle, which embodies another quality of what a hero is considered to have.
A final characteristic of a hero is someone who must overcome a struggle. In literature a tragic hero is someone who must fight to overcome some obstacle, and Satan seems to have the biggest struggle of them all: he is cast down from Heaven. Book 1 of “Paradise Lost” is all about how Satan lost in battle to God and was sent down from Heaven to this place of Chaos along with is followers. Satan and his army plan to seek revenge on God for sending them to this fiery world. Satan calls upon his followers and says, “Awake, arise, or be forever fall’n” (Milton 330). This line lets the reader know a...