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Role Of Devil In Paradise Lost

1300 words - 5 pages

The word devil does not conjure an attractive image. While the messages the word devil conveys are, more often than not, negative, the devil offers a guilty pleasure that we often find attractive. There are instances of this attraction throughout our society. It is not uncommon to see models today in bright red dresses that immediately create a sex appeal. Similarly, the "bad-boy" image remains as popular in our society as any other time before. The popularity of the devil (used interchangeably with Satan throughout this paper) represents the more animal-like, carnal side of the human psyche. While we would, ideally, like to eliminate all elements of this type from our psyche, strong ties to this side still exist in our society.Therefore, it is not very tough to postulate that Milton viewed the devil in a more admirable light than he would have liked to admit, perhaps even to himself. This view of his is bolstered in several instances throughout the story. The arguments in the story are often presented in ways that, while not necessarily lopsided, invoke feelings of ambivalence toward Satan as a downtrodden man attempting to regain power.This book is quite unique in the way it presents its viewpoint. The book reads from Satan's perspective instead of the "standard" re-telling of the story from God's perspective. This reversal of roles results in the shift in perceptions of characters as well. Instead of viewing Satan as an evil creature trying to usurp power, he is now a fallen man struggling to regain what he lost. Satan is now fighting for his rights; he is leading a great revolution for equality for his people. So, although Satan is by default evil and unjust, he seems to be a great leader fighting for his group of people's dignity and popular freedom. This is the initial catalyst for sympathy with Satan. Satan rebels for the most popular and sentimental cause, a cause which twentieth century citizens of the world share, the cause of equality and democracy. I am by no means trying to compare Satan to any of the world's most prominent leaders (such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, etc.), but the way the audience perceives him is now contrary to the knee-jerk reactions that categorize him as evil and unfeeling.The book seems to provide another perception contrary to assumed knowledge. While this example is not necessarily as blatant as the previous one, it is one of the most important implications made by Milton throughout the story as it allows the audience to sympathize with Satan.It is difficult, to say the least, for any poet to reduce God to an idea or concept that could be understood by all men. Some of the most eloquent men in history have failed to accomplish this task. Milton's attempt at this, perhaps not intentionally, serves to distance the character of God. The following lines are our first glimpse of God: Hail holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first-born, Or of th' Eternal Coeternal beam May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,...

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