This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

John Miltons's Paradise Lost: Is Satan A Villain Or Hero?

2015 words - 8 pages

The question of whether Satan is the hero or the villain of John Milton’s Paradise Lost has been largely debated by scholars over the centuries. The ones who believe Satan is the villain of the epic, more commonly known as the Anti-Satanists, tend to argue that Satan is too foolish to be considered a hero, as his “hostility to Almighty power” is ultimately a futile endeavour (as God’s power is omnipotent) (Carey, 135). C.W. Lewis, also an anti-Satanist, goes as far as to claim that to “admire Satan, then, is to give one’s vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking” (Lewis, 203). The ones who claim Satan is the hero of the epic, the Satanists, perceive him as the rebellious angel who rises up and defies God’s monarchy and “the tyranny of Heav’n” (174).They choose to focus on Satan’s “nobler qualities, his loyalty in leadership, fortitude in adversity, unflinching courage and splendid recklessness” (Satan/Promo, 3). While these two positions are both valid, this paper will be focusing on a third position; the individuals who believe that Satan is neither the hero nor the villain of the epic. Helen Gardner addresses this notion, claiming how “Satan is, of course, a character in an epic, and he is no sense the hero of the epic as a whole. But he is a figure of heroic magnitude and heroic energy, and he is developed by Milton with dramatic emphasis and dramatic intensity” (Baker/Helen, 208). Satan is without a doubt the antichrist, or “villain” in the biblical scriptures, however one must take into consideration his alternative and more ambiguous portrayal in Paradise Lost. In this paper, I will analyze Satan’s actions, physical portrayal and speeches in Book I of Paradise Lost, and argue that from the textual evidence, these aspects of Satan are ultimately ambivalent, thus Satan cannot be categorized as either the extreme hero or the extreme villain, but rather as a dramatic figure with both heroic and villainous characteristics.

The preliminary depiction of Satan’s actions in Paradise Lost appears after Milton describes God, his kingdom of heaven, and his children; Adam and Eve. As Rostrevor states, “we can expect nothing but fierce condemnation” of Satan after the initial portrayal of the goodness of heaven (Rostrevor, 9). Satan, therefore, is also described in the traditional Christian sense; as the prideful antichrist who attempts to usurp God Almighty, the creator of the universe, and is subsequently cast out of heaven once he fails to do so. This negative depiction is further demonstrated here, where Satan is described as the “infernal Serpent… whose guile / Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived / The mother of mankind, what time his pride / Had cast him out from Heav’n” (34-37). Satan is immediately associated with two sinful vices, pride and envy, which, along with his rebellion against God, frame him as the villain. However, one must also understand that our “preconceived...

Find Another Essay On John Miltons's Paradise Lost: Is Satan a Villain or Hero?

Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost Essay

2026 words - 8 pages “shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain” (Revelations 21:4). One aspect of Satan that is echoed all throughout the Bible and never mentioned in Book One of Paradise Lost is that fact that Satan is a deceiver. Milton never really has a chance to hit on this aspect of Satan in Book One, but many places in the Bible described Satan as such. The disciple John wrote that the Devil “does not stand in the truth, because

Presentation of Satan in Paradise Lost

1334 words - 5 pages Paradise Lost which has been written by John Milton, is the longest poem of him. In this poem Milton tells us a classical Adam and Eve story by a different way. Milton sees himself as a prophet while he is writing this poem. His aim is, to show and vindicate God's aims to people. He wants to see past and get a divine thought. While Milton was writing this poem he made very good presentation of Satan and Fallen Angles. He represents the Satan so

John Milton's Paradise Lost

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

John Milton: Paradise Lost

1533 words - 6 pages In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan seeks revenge against God and causes the fall of man. He deceives Adam and Eve and gets them to disobey God. God ends up seeming cruel because of the way He punishes Adam and Eve but, He’s not. God could have killed them for disobeying him, instead He’s giving them a second chance with life, its just going to be a harder life. God is just doing what He has to by sending them out of the Garden. He is the high

John Milton's Paradise Lost

3120 words - 12 pages John Milton's Paradise Lost John Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with fantastical tales from the depths of Hell, extravagant descriptions of the fallen angels, and a curious recitation of the council of demons in their new palace. How did Milton dream up such vivid depictions of such horrible demons as the ones we see in Book I? Most of his fallen angels originate in the form of Pagan gods condemned by the Bible, with actual historical

John Miltons Paradise Lost

2139 words - 9 pages John Miltons Paradise Lost John Milton’s Paradise Lost is a religious work, and is in many ways an autobiography of Milton’s own life. John Milton was raised catholic and converted to Protestantism. Later in life he became a Calvinist. His strong Calvinists beliefs can be seen throughout Paradise Lost. It was Milton’s desire to be a great poet, but he did not believe that was his purpose in life. He believed that he had been put here

Paradise Lost by John Milton Essay Title: Is God Just?

1606 words - 6 pages John Milton's Paradise Lost has been perhaps one of the most heatedly debated works of Western literature. Critics of Paradise Lost have praised Milton for his accurate description of a divine omnipotent and just God. I intend to prove that God as depicted in Paradise Lost is not the same God that is depicted in the Bible. Milton makes a noble attempt, but he is guilty of being only human. He makes the attempt to portray God as fair and just

Paradise Lost by John Milton

712 words - 3 pages Heather R. George Professor Paige Sasser ENG 2323 May 28, 2014 Literary Analysis Essay Paradise Lost John Milton's Paradise Lost is a configuration of the biblical interpretations in Genesis written in the 17th Century. In many ways this story is like the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible; although some aspects are significantly different. Some may try and argue that this poem is about Satan wanting revenge on God; however it shows a beautiful

Satan, the Core of Milton´s Paradise Lost

1621 words - 6 pages . In this sense Satan seems very heroic and critics have even gone as far as interpreting God as the villain. An article, which questions Satan’s role in, Paradise Lost shares, “God himself cannot be classified as a hero according to the traditional definition. In fact, He may be the most anti-heroic character of all in this epic and is presented in a way that makes the reader fear (or even resent) him rather than see him in the

Paradise Lost, by John Milton

1191 words - 5 pages In Paradise Lost, Milton writes the creation story from the perspective of three different characters: Eve, Raphael, and Adam, in that order. Eve’s story tells of her creation and her interest in herself rather than in Adam. Adam’s story tells the creation of animals and then of Eve from his rib. Raphael’s story is more of a warning to Adam to make sure that Eve does not eat from the tree of knowledge. Raphael is sent by God because he is

Paradise Lost by John Milton

1088 words - 4 pages As Bloom’s theory would suggest, John Milton is often credited with influencing literary figures - particularly during the Romantic period. T.S. Eliot writes of Milton’s ‘bad influence’ upon his successors while others, such as Lucy Newlyn , celebrate his impact. Many critics use Wordsworth as a perfect example of this influence and there is certainly a valid argument for his ‘emulation’ of, and ‘rebellion’ against, Paradise Lost. Throughout

Similar Essays

Satan In John Milton's Paradise Lost

2624 words - 10 pages sense on the surface, it has a symbolic meaning as an expression of Satan's will to reject the values set before him. In doing so he creates an illusionary world that uses his evil instead of good, which he accepts as reality. We cannot understand where hell is or what it is really like so we do not understand his reality. Some think Milton portrays Satan as a hero in Paradise Lost. Many people show empathy toward Satan because he is tempted

Satan In Paradise Lost Essay

1949 words - 8 pages Satan’s character in Paradise Lost can be seen as a hero in some cases. Most people would be completely shocked at the mere thought of Gods fallen angel being a hero in any sense of the word. However, in this work by John Milton, Satan can be seen as the major protagonist. The question most people will ask is why. Why do people find such pleasure in analyzing Satan’s character? One of the major reasons could be the depth of the character; he is

Hero Of John Milton's Paradise Lost

996 words - 4 pages 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

An Essay On Milton's "Paradise Lost" Stating That Although The Character Of Satan Follows Some Of Aristotle's Definitions Of A Tragic Hero, He Is Not

1897 words - 8 pages doomed to make a severe error in judgment. Eventually, the tragic hero falls from a high status, realizes the mistake that was made, faces and accepts their death, and finally ends in a tragic death. It is important to state that, in all tragic heroes, the audience is affected by fear and/or pity. In Paradise Lost, the reader is easily able to relate to Satan, even pity him at some points, especially in the opening books. When viewing the character