Paradise Lost

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Throughout “Paradise Lost”, Satan slowly degenerates both mentally and physically as he turns from a fallen archangel into the lowest form of a serpent. He possesses some of his former pre-fall qualities; however, he becomes so tormented mentally that his physical appearance slowing conforms to the evil inside of him. His “honorable” motives even become corrupted throughout. This regression of Satan’s character throughout the poem illustrates the way Milton believes sin originated in the Bible. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.” (1.254-255) Milton implies to the reader that he believes Satan’s post-fall outcome is solely based on how he perceives it. Therefore, his obvious degeneration throughout the poem is due to his inability to cope with the fact that God has ultimate authority over the happenings of Heaven and Earth. Many of Milton’s critics claim that he purposely created Satan as a sympathetic character. William Blake, for example, said that Milton was “of the Devil’s party without knowing it”. He is inferring that Milton took pity on Satan and therefore implies to readers that they should feel sorry for him. I, however, believe that Milton truly disliked Satan and designed his apparent degeneration throughout the poem in order to show the reader that, based on God’s idea of free will, Satan’s demise was by his own hand. Satan tells the other fallen angels that it is “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n” (I.263). We can see how Satan begins the poem having a positive outlook on his situation. He doesn’t want his followers to see defeat in his eyes and tries to make the most out of the outcome. His strong demeanor works to his advantage in rallying his followers against the dictatorial reign of God. Aside from Satan’s mental state, his physical appearance is just as radiant. He begins the poem as a just-fallen angel of enormous stature. Milton describes Satan “in bulk as huge/As whom...
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