The Role of Satan Paradise Lost

Topics: Adam and Eve, Paradise Lost, John Milton Pages: 4 (1650 words) Published: October 4, 2012
John Milton's characterization of Satan in "Paradise Lost" has been the subject of much debate for three and a half centuries. Much of this debate has centered on the issue of his true role within the work. Did Milton intend his Satan to represent the classic incarnation of evil and villany established by Christian mythology or did he carefully craft a version of Satan with which the reader is supposed to sympathize? The problem with this question is the stigma associated with Satan himself. Perhaps the most-well known evil figure in Christian society, it's difficult to see Satan as anything but a villain. The mind automatically assumes that when the prince of darkness appears in a story, his intentions and motivations must be purely evil. How could one so malicious ever be considered a heroic figure? Milton's own politics must be considered as well. His personal feelings regarding the restoration of the monarchy are well known. It's not hard to imagine that one of the greatest events in his personal life would have some impact on his greatest work. From the beginning he makes reference to "the throne and monarchy of God" (I. 42). His use of the word "monarchy" to describe God in his tale is especially telling. Milton himself was vehemently opposed to the monarchy and applying this term to God's rule gives the reader a glimpse into his intention for the entire work. He goes on to refer to "the tyranny of Heav'n" (I. 124) and "His throne upheld by old repute" (I. 639), further glimpses into Milton's personal feelings regarding God's role within the story. Milton's political views repeatedly show up in the poem and must be carefully considered when trying to discern who the true hero of "Paradise Lost" is. The fact is, when one removes the biblical connotations from the work and considers it solely on the basis of the story itself; it becomes obvious who the true hero of the piece is. The story could be easily rewritten in modern times, without biblical...
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