Comparing the View of Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost with Contemporary Views of Satan
In Milton's classic epic poem Paradise Lost the reader gains a judicious and even controversial vision of Satan as the protagonist of the epic. This is in direct contrast with our current idea and opinion of Satan as the leading nominal of evil and darkness.
In Milton's Paradise Lost the Prince of Darkness is our hero. Perhaps not in the true sense of the word, but rather, he is the character that the reader is able to understand. The reader can see the "human" in the fallen angel, Lucifer. Satan and his seemingly righteous battle with God are the focus of the novel. He questions the orders from one who seems to be an overbearing dictator, an oppressive boss, (our Lord and Creator) God, and is, in the ensuing period, removed from Heaven. Satan is not portrayed as the embodiment of evil, but instead as a dauntless rebel. Satan rapidly gains a following of demons and dark angels who are drawn to his dynamic nature and ways. In his new-found home of Hell, Satan and his masses begin, to question what can be done to somehow gain control of Heaven, or at least get back at it.
It is at this point that we are exposed to Satan's good qualities. The newly crowned Lord of Hell is given all the qualities of a great leader. Satan is influential, courageous, determined, and intellectual. This characterization further endears Satan to the readers. Satan is the protagonist in this novel, not God. Satan is shown in a positive light at every opportunity while God is shown in, not necessarily a negative light but simply not as a positive position. This role and image reversal is critical in Paradise Lost as Satan can be interpreted in a new fashion.
Cesar Berdeja, from Rice University, saw Francis Ford Coppela's Dracula as a fallen angel that was similar to Satan in Paradise Lost. This thus leads toward a pity toward evil in general. "This presentation is different from the original novel because it lacks the balance between the reader's like and dislike of Dracula [and Satan] throughout the story." (Berdeja-1) Both stories hold an entirely different position upon the characters of Dracula and Satan. Both are characters of evil and ones that were formed (of course looking at Satan in a strictly littoral sense at the moment) as being of evil. Yet, Coppela and Milton seem to have a sort of untamed heart for the "monster" that is at the very least, devilish. The audience is allowed to feel sympathy for these otherwise repulsive representations of evil.
In the critique of Paradise Lost by Blake Rodgers of Ohio University, the novel is stacked up against the colonization of America. Rodgers is able to make the comparison of Satan (and the rest of the demons and fallen angles) to the Puritans as they were banished from the land of England. The brave new world that is stricken by the pilgrims seeking freedom from tyranny was pointed out to be none other than Hell...