Distinguishing Between Bad and Evil
John Milton’s works Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle all have antagonists that are Milton’s representations of evil. However, when closely examining Satan in Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained it is easily recognizable that Satan’s character has taken a remarkable shift in that he no longer questions his immoral actions just like Comus never questions his actions in A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle. This close examination brings about the question what’s the difference between being an evil being and a person with bad character? This essay will evaluate how Satan in Paradise Lost is just a bad character whereas Satan in Paradise Regained and Comus are evil beings.
In Paradise Lost Milton creates Satan’s character with intricate conflicting dualities, ultimately creating him as both good and bad. Milton’s careful and complex development of Satan’s character both establishes and revokes the idea of Satan being good and bad. He uses this tension between Satan’s appealing attributes and bad qualities allowing the reader to be able to relate to Satan on some level. He is also using this tension to tempt the reader to give into Satan’s alluring speeches and challenging them to resist it. Satan is a great speaker; he knows exactly what everyone wants to hear. His speeches are so convincing that even the reader is tempted to fall into the notion that they are all just innocent victims: “Me though just right, and the fixed laws of heaven Did first create your leader, next free choice, with what besides, in counsel or in fight, Hath been achieved of merit, yet this loss” (ln 18-21) Even though Satan’s speeches are intriguing and sound wonderful they are embedded in lies. Satan delivers another infectious speech after accepting the task to go to the new world in which he rallies up these fallen angels and makes certain that they are aware that he is risking his life for their sake. At this point Satan’s become a very attractive dominate character and even begins appeal as a hero to the reader. Satan’s character makes it difficult for the reader not to be seduced by his attractive features and toxic words. Milton creates Satan’s character in this way in order to tempt and test his reader by appealing to the reader’s sinful side. His constant manipulation of the reader and the characters within the text does not necessarily make him evil it just reflects poor judgment and bad character.
In Paradise Regained Satan no longer possesses the same conflicting dualities of good and bad; instead his character illustrates a malevolent being. Satan no longer questions or reacts with conflicting feelings towards his demonic actions and sentiments as he did in Paradise Lost. His character is completely detached from the purity that was once within him and commits atrocities without remorse or question. It is evident in Paradise Regained that Milton has completely reconstructed Satan in such a...