Hero of Paradise Lost
John Milton introduces the reader to Satan in the first book of Paradise Lost. Satan is shown defeated in the Lake of Fire after rebelling against God in heaven. Satan rises from the lake and gives a heroic speech to his fallen angels. This displays Satan as a tragic hero, someone who is seen as great but is destined to fail. Satan tries to be the victor, but in the end Satan fails, and Christ is the true hero.
Satan is shown to have heroic qualities during the first two books of Paradise Lost. His first quality is that Satan is at the center of the beginning books of Paradise Lost. Sarker states this in his book “Milton,” when he says, “Milton has obviously lionized the character of Satan, particularly in the first three Books of the epic (Sarker 210).” This shows that Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost because Milton spends more time on him than any other character (Sarker 210,211).
One quality of Satan is his strength. We can see his strength when he is fighting against the angels in the sixth book when Raphael recounts the battle against Satan. The angels could not beat Satan, and Jesus had to be sent against him (Milton 206). This shows that Satan had immense power, but also shows that Christ is more powerful than Satan (Milton 207). Other examples of his strength are in his conversation with Beelzebub. Beelzebub says to Satan that Satan “shook his throne (Milton14).” One must be very powerful and strong in order to disrupt God’s throne.
A third heroic quality of Satan is his perseverance. This is shown in the first book of the epic when he is speaking to one of his fallen angels. His perseverance is shown in lines 120-124. Satan has just fallen into Hell, yet he still says he will wage war against God again either by force or guile (Milton 14). One must have a lot of perseverance in order to have another war against a Supreme Being who has just defeated him.
A hero must also have a goal for him to reach for. Satan’s goal is to wage war against God by either force or guile. This is clearly stated in line 121 (Milton 14). Satan chooses guile when he hears of Adam and Eve and says he wants them to turn to Satan’s side, and for God to destroy Adam and Eve with His hands (Milton 52). When no one volunteered on this mission, Satan said he would complete this goal (Milton 54).
With every tragic hero, they must also have a tragic flaw. With Satan this tragic flaw is pride (Midgley 137). We can see Satan’s pride when Raphael retells to Adam the rebellion of Satan. Raphael tells Adam that because of pride Satan tried to overthrow God...