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The Significance Of Satan As The Leader Of Hell

1358 words - 5 pages

In the epic, Paradise Lost, John Milton draws from the book of Genesis in the Bible to not only convey the fall of man, but also to present his views on many controversial issues. To
best present his beliefs, Milton utilizes characters from Genesis to draw comparisons between
real-life issues and the well-known story of Adam and Eve. One of the ways that Milton seeks to
express his opposition to the monarchy in England is through the use of Satan as the leader of
what Milton establishes as a sort of democracy in Hell. Furthermore, Milton clearly distinguishes
how Satan, as the leader of the perceived democracy in Hell, not only parallels the Puritan
diversion from the Church in England, but also provokes a discussion of what constitutes free
will. In order for one to best understand the significance of Satan as the leader of Hell, however,
it is necessary for one to first consider and analyze both Milton’s personal views as they relate to
the political climate in England in the 1600’s and how Milton establishes governance in Paradise
Lost, before considering why and how Satan becomes the leader of Hell.
To best understand the significance of Satan as the leader of Hell, it is necessary to first
evaluate Milton’s background and personal views, especially as they relate to the political
conflict in England in the 1600’s. Milton was born on December 9, 1608, and went to college to
become a priest for the Church of England; however, Milton did not end up becoming a priest
(Flannagan 13 and Dickson). Instead, Milton chose to abandon the Church of England to
become a Puritan because he opposed monarchy, which was dynamically linked with the Church
Budak 2
of England (Flannagan 2 and Dickson). Milton believed in a rule of law in which the head of
state was “responsible to the people first, before his own personal or even political interests,” and
where “law should rule above any individual” (Flannagan 501). As a Puritan, otherwise known
as a Dissenter, Milton was strongly opposed to monarchy and Charles I since he believed tyranny
did not allow free right or reason (Flannagan 8). Furthermore, he was concerned with both
political and theological freedom and openly expressed his views through his writing in works
like Paradise Lost and Areopagitica, which was “written to vindicate the freedom of the press
from the tyranny of licensers” (Flannagan 15). Milton believed that Charles I should be deposed
or even beheaded because he was “not responsive to his people’s desires expressed through
parliamentary legislation” (Flannagan 501). Although many believed that Milton should be hung
because of his role in the interregnum, which was the time between when Charles I was
beheaded in 1649 and Charles II assumed the throne in 1660, Milton was not chastised
(Dickson). By first understanding why Milton was opposed to monarchy, one can recognize not
only how Milton applied his personal beliefs to the forms of governance in Paradise...

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