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John Milton's Paradise Lost Essay

1695 words - 7 pages

In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan may be considered a hero by some readers, because he struggles to overcome his own doubts and weaknesses and accomplishes his goal of corrupting mankind. This goal, however, is evil, and proves that Satan is unworthy to hold the title of “hero”. According to Wikipedia, a hero is a person “who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.” He must always be willing to show forgiveness, humility, and selflessness so that he may better serve others. Satan, however, did not display these good traits, and wished to act against God. He was vengeful, arrogant, and prideful throughout the epic, and did not show any virtue in his actions. One must fully examine the characteristics of Satan and define heroism before considering Satan any type of hero.
Revenge on God was the main vice displayed by Satan throughout the epic, and is not the trait of a true hero. In the beginning of the epic, Satan says that he will “look out for revenge, hating forever”1 the One who cast them into Hell, and will be brave enough to never give in. He promised that he will “never do anything good. To always harm will be our only pleasure, because it will go against the desires of Him we are fighting.”2 He then continues saying that if God tries to create good from Satan's evil, then he will work to twist God's goal and make sure that evil comes out of good. Satan's goal is to cause God grief and knock His most cherished plans off course. The New American Bible says, “Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.”3 One must not seek vengeance when angered, but rather restrain and seek blessings throughout life. Because he felt he was wronged, Satan was constantly “full of thoughts of wicked revenge”4, and plotted against God throughout the entire epic. Revenge stems from jealousy, which stems from hatred, which is a vice. Since revenge is a vice and not a moral action, it is not heroic, therefore making Satan less like a hero.
Throughout Paradise Lost, Satan is very arrogant toward God and his fellow demons. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, being arrogant is “having or showing the insulting attitude of people who believe that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people”5, which is the way Satan acted after he was cast into Hell. He thought he was so mighty, that he tried to “set himself up in Heaven as the highest, thinking he could even take on the role of God.”6 What creature in its right mind would dare to challenge the throne of God? Satan thought himself to be superior to God, so he tried to take over Heaven, but failed. He says that he would rather “reign in Hell that rule in Heaven”7, and thought himself to be to mighty to serve under a Power greater than him. He continues...

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