Paradise Lost: Satan Hero or Villain?

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Satan: Epic Hero or Villain?

John Milton wrote one of the greatest epic poems of all time when he wrote Paradise Lost in 1667. The book tells about man's creation and fall while detailing characters and the plot beyond what the Bible taught. One of these characters is Satan, which is one of the most argumented, controversial, and popular characters in the history of literature. The reason for controversary is the unclarity of whether or not Satan is a hero or a villain. He contains many qualities that distinguish him as a hero. On the other hand he also has qualities which say he is a villain. Scholars have written over time to support each argument of hero or villain and have explained why Milton decided to create such a character.

In Paradise Lost there are many times where we see Satan partaking in heroic acts. His bravery and heroism is shown when he encounters Sin and Death at the gates of hell.
Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscereated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? Through them I meant to pass,
That be assured, without leave asked of thee.
Retire, or taste they folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with the Spirits of Heaven.
(Milton 80)

This shows us Satan not being scared to fight. He looks Death right in the face and says that he doesn't get out of the way he will physically move him out of the way. By this readers are not impressed because it is only Satan, but a great heroic figure like Odysseus would get praised for this. Satan is marked villain because of his reputation. But it is obvious that Satan is a hero for he contains so many heroic characteristicts. Another instance in the book in which Satan shows his heroism is when he is leading the charge against Michael. A regular soldier would stay in the back of the army or linger around in the middle of the pack. But not Satan, he is right there in the front of the swarm leading his men. He has no hesitations even though he knows that he has very little chance to win. He would never show his men fear and by this he leads the charge and gives him men confidence. This is only something in which a hero would do. This is something in which Odysseus a great hero had done.

Satan also shows that he was smart and knew what to do in a complicated situation. This is shown when he is in battlle against the good angels, and Satan invents the cannon. We see the genius in Satan but he is still denied the title of hero. Any other person would be considered a hero for doing something great like this, but not Satan. But it is so hard not to see him as one for all the heroic things he did.

In the book we see Satan's heroic qualities when he talks to his devils giving them passion and confidence.

I should be much open for war, O Peers,
As no behind in hate, if what was urged
Main reason to persuade immediate war
Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success..
Worth waiting, since our present lot appears
For happy thought but ill, for ill not worst,
I we procure not to ourselves more woe.
(Milton 65-67)

In this we see that Satan has great leadership qualities. He has the great leadership as many other heroes of literature. He talks to his men with great passion and desire, this allows them to feel every word that he is saying. When he finally finishes, they are ready to attack heaven. He has the attention of the devils so greatly that they feel his words and want to live them out immediately. This great quality is shared again with Odysseus as he had the same great charisma when he rallied his troops before battle in the underworld. Satan's leadership is first seen when he stands up and takes control and leadership over all the devils. By this we see that Satan has the urge to lead and be in control of the situation. He would rather have it...
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