Heroism in Prometheus Bound and Paradise Lost
Heroism, the act of exhibiting noble or self-sacrificing conduct, and the appearance of heroism are two nearly indistinguishable manners. Their difference is the amount of depth contained, in definition. Heroism is an occupation. In determining if a character is heroic, the commentator must know the character’s intentions, manners, and desires. The appearance of heroism is a quality. To determine an appearance, the reader can use one piece of information to decide if a character appears heroic. Aeschylus’s “Prometheus Bound” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” are comprised of characters that have both heroic and heroic-appearing roles. Two characters that portray and contrast these roles well are Satan and Prometheus.
Prometheus is a figure that is given qualities and moral principles that make him a heroic figure. First, his appearance is impressive in size, power, extent, and effect. Prometheus is depicted as a supreme figure to make him an asset to anyone who needs his help. In “Prometheus Bound”, Prometheus uses his great strength and size to provide mortal men with fire; a heroic effort by definition. He is also given great features that emphasize his self-sacrificing beliefs. Prometheus accepted his fate, a punishment that extracted all of his divine traits, because of his devotion to the termination of dictatorship. Prometheus was willing to be bound and preyed upon by an eagle for his noble beliefs. Prometheus’s speeches also contribute to his presence as a hero. He provides extensive and effective speech that makes him the central figure for adoration. Prometheus tells the chorus of his existence as a “knight in shining armor”, which further defines his function as a hero. The chorus’s reaction to Prometheus’s speech (227-270) is one of admiration and devotion. Earlier, Prometheus gave a speech to himself, discussing the legitimacy of Zeus’s inexorable punishment. “I needs must bear my destiny as best I may” (115-116) acts as a promoter of empathy, revealing that Prometheus has pondered and acknowledged the consequence of his actions. An immortal soul with the conscious of a mortal being foreshadows Prometheus’s heroic tale; a narrative presenting inner conflict dealing with love, loyalty, and honor. Prometheus, as a character, encompasses all of the qualities that a hero, by definition, would be composed of.
Satan, on the other hand, is a villain that merely possesses the appearance of a hero; an illustrious warrior...