Humanity of Satan in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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It can be argued that Satan is the hero of Paradise Lostand God is the ruler of an oppressive hierarchy in heaven according to the way Milton initially portrays each of them. Milton uses literary devises such as tone and characterization to make Satan appear as the true martyr of the poem. Because of Christianity, Satan is commonly viewed as purely evil. There are images of him as a jealous, venomous snake, whose sole purpose is to tempt man to disobey God. Milton paints a more complex picture that shows Satan as dynamic character, and God as a being capable of unfair and unjust behavior. They have more sides to them than just classic good and evil. In the beginning, Milton shows God as an unforgiving, all-consuming force that expels His rebellious angels out of His supreme kingdom as well as damns them to an eternity of miserable torment. Since Satan led the angels in a revolt against God’s thrown and God Himself, he suffers the most torture. This initially allows readersto feel sorry for Satan. They come to the conclusion that it was not entirely Satan’s fault that he got expelled from heaven. He is pushed by the injustice, unfairness, and close-mindedness of God. God’s attitude of supreme rule and having no allowance of competition and opposing force pushes Satan to stand up for what he thought was right and challenge God for power in order to show God that he was not truly qualified for the job of divine king. Milton mentions the fact that God gives all His creations free will to choose to do what they feel is right or wrong. However, Milton highlights the fact that He punishes the people that use this power by denying them the glory and majesty of Heaven. Using this argument, Milton sparks disbelief and conflict in the reader. Is God truly the epitome of good? Are His actions just or does He go against His own will when it’s convenient for Him or when He feels threatened? These questions play in the mind of the reader, and he questions all of the biblical lessons taught to him as a child or at some point in his life. If he believes in God, he wonders if he believes in the right thingor the right person. Milton adds to this reaction by raising more supportive evidence for Satan’s side of the argument. He writes, “The Arch-Fiend lay Chained on the burning lake nor ever thence/Had rise or heaved his head but that the will and high permission of all-ruling Heaven.” One could almost thinkthis is some sort of a twisted game in God’s mind. He is an advocate of free will and allows Satan to spread evil throughout the world despite knowing that He could easily destroy him. It could seem as if He’s waiting for the right moment to overthrow and destroy Satan one time for all eternity. God, here, is pictured as a tyrant. To the reader, God seems less like the kind, caring, merciful Heavenly Father, and He appears more as a selfish, hypocritical, and uncaring Diety or Supreme Being. He is portrayed as a God that does not truly care about what He has created ' He is only out for personal gratification. Milton’s argument and support for it makes it easy for the reader to disregard the clear definitions of good and evil. He makes it almost simple to sympathize with Satan’s plight. Satan was exiled from his heavenly home just because he disagreed with the King or harsh master and is abased to become a deformed, less majestic being that faces torture for the rest of eternity. Therefore, Satan is justified and right in his actions to wage war against the Tyrant. He has no other choice; he must do this for the greater good of all the angels. He says, “To be weak is to be miserable.” It is not even an option for Satan to go back and submit to God’s rule and lie passive. Satan remarks, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” It is unacceptable to him, just as it is to any other tragic, epic hero. Though the reader sees these characteristics, he is still hesitant to discard the previous negative connotations society has taught him...
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