Rhetoric and the Great Books
March 5, 2013
Satan: The Unsung Hero?
Having the title of a hero has changed substantially over the centuries, but throughout all of the changes a few things have stood strong. Passion, strength, determination, leadership, and cunning all have passed the test of time, and oddly enough John Milton’s character of Satan in Paradise Lost has all of these attributes. Is it possible that Satan may be viewed as a hero? Throughout the story, Satan shows strong characteristics of an epic hero through his dialogue, actions, and overall personality.
Right from the beginning of the poem, Satan speaks in ways that reveal to the reader that he is no fool. Satan, knowing that he and his followers have fallen, begins to speak in an inspiring manner establishing his role as ruler and giving insight about how he still continues to believe in what he fell for. “The mind is its own place, and itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.” (1.254-255). Satan saying this shows how he has no intentions of going back to heaven because that would mean going back on what he stood up for. By not repenting, it shows that Satan is truly passionate about what he believes in and that characteristic matches that of the stereotypical hero. Another example of Satan’s leadership is when he gives his first inspirational speech and commands his rebels to rise up, which they do. Not only does this show Satan’s standing among them, but it is also a show of his overall strength. The strength is represented by the obedience of his followers. Throughout Books I and II Satan’s speeches dominate the poem and makes him more and more attractive to the reader. This is a parallel that Milton wrote in to show how easy it is to choose sin i.e. Satan. It also is Milton’s way of making Satan more understandable. Take away the name Satan and what do you have. From his point of view there is some guy who is voicing his opinion to an...