The Heroism in Satan

Topics: Hero, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained Pages: 4 (1361 words) Published: March 6, 2014
Lingke Xiao
Professor Pilinovsky
FY Seminar Essay 1
2/23/2014
The Heroism in Satan
Leading the rebellion and seducing Man to fall, Satan is presented as the notorious antagonist in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In order to have full freedom and be the ruler of hell, Satan rebels against God the Father who created him, and he even persuades other angels to challenge God’s plan. Although Satan is evil, we see cues of heroism in him since he is the character who suffers from defeats, experiences complex self-struggles, and finally chooses to remain faithful to his own ideals. Compared with God, Satan is also a more democratic leader when he rules in Hell. By making the villain heroic, Milton not only amplified the power of evil, but also shadowed his own political aspiration into this attractive character. Satan’s rebellion is because of his envy against the son of God. As indicated by Milton in Book V of Paradise Lost: “he [Satan] of the first / If not the first Arch-Angel, great in Power / In favour and preeminence” (Book V, 659-661), Satan once was a mighty angel favored by God. When God announces that he had begot a son who was to rule at his right hand, Satan is so annoyed that he “could not bear / Through pride that sight, and thought himself impair’d” (Book V, 664-665). Satan considers himself powerful and competent, and maybe he was waiting for a promotion for a long time. The arrival of God the Son makes Satan feel envy and dissatisfied. Satan is content to follow God since he knows that God is omnipotent, but he does not want to bow to God the Son, who is endowed with status by God’s autocracy. As a result, Satan decides to “unobey’d the Throne supreme” (Book V, 670) and fight for his own freedom. The desire for freedom and the spirit of rebellion make Satan stand out from other angels in Heaven. After God’s announcement, almost all angels happily accept God the Son and offer songs and dances. Among them, there are many other high-ranking...

Cited: Milton, John. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Ed. Christopher Ricks. New York: Signet Classic, 2001. Print.
Smith, Nicole. “’Paradise Lost’ by Milton: Satan, Heroism and Classical Definitions of the Epic Hero” Article Myriad, 2011. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Woods, Susanne. "Introduction." Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. New York: Signet Classic, 2001. Print.
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