Satan, The Core Of Milton´S Paradise Lost

1621 words - 6 pages

The great debate whether Satan is the hero of Milton’s Epic Poem, Paradise Lost, has been speculated for hundreds of years. Milton, a writer devoted to theology and the appraisal of God, may not have intended for his portrayal of Satan to be marked as heroic. Yet, this argument is valid and shares just how remarkable the study of literature can be. Milton wrote his tale of the fall of man in the 1674. His masterpiece is an example of how ideas of a society change with time. This is because it wasn’t until the 1800’s during the Romantic era, that people no longer saw the hero of literary works as perfect in every way. It started to become more popular to develop the flawed character similar to the ones written in the classics. A literary criterion that is based on a protagonist, who undergoes conflict on the outside and from within and is prevented by a specific flaw to accomplish their main goal, creates an epic Hero. In Paradise Lost, God does not face conflict because he is perfect and all-knowing, and Adam’s conflict is not presented from the very start, Satan’s is. Because Satan is the main character of the work and possesses qualities that would deem him heroic, such as his determination against tough odds, his ability to lead, and his human-like nature to error, he can be seen has the Hero of the famous poem.
From the very moment that Satan is introduced he presents this unwavering passion to defeat his all-mighty creator. Satan says in book one, “By force, hath overcome but half his foe. (1:648-649). Here, Satan states in his second speech that they have not lost the battle of Heaven vs. Hell completely. God was stronger than they expected but they were going to overcome their first loss and win the next one. Not only would they use strength, but their cunning wits as well, as Satan also says in his speech, “Henceforth his might we know, and know our own/ So not as not either to provoke, or dread / New war provoked; our better part remains/ To work in close design, by fraud or guile” (1:643-646). Satan was unwilling to back down, no matter how great God’s power. This mission stands out as an element of the epic hero. In almost all epics written the hero has to stifle past guarded boundaries in order to complete goals. Satan’s bravery in trying to learn answers concerning his existence in heaven and his damnation to Hell is noble. Determination to derive truth is an admirable quality. Though his bitterness creates negative characteristics, his core purpose is not entirely blasphemous. He considers all that is placed before him and says in book 1, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” (263). He knows that Hell is a place of doom and torture, but he is committed to living there with dignity and hopes to eventually rise above the creator and gain back what he feels he is entitled to as a living being. This acceptance of his conditions and determination to overcome makes him the underdog that an audience cannot help but...

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