In Miltons Paradise Lost, Satan is the protagonist of the play, and he is portrayed as a hero. In Paradise Lost, Satan is depicted as a towering and eminent figure. Satan is revealed as courageous and one who has a high level of pride. Satan is highly ambitious and full of desire. Satan is viewed as a hero because of his limitless courage and audacity in the Paradise Lost. Proponents of Satan as a hero aver that individuals who have unrestrained desire are the ones who get ahead in life. People who have an unwilling desire are perceived as passive. It is also believed that passive individuals are governed by individuals who have a burning desire. Satan is portrayed as a moral being that perseveres to achieve a particular goal in presence of torture and adversity. Satans goal in Paradise Lost is to liberate human beings and angelic forces from what he believes is an autocratic rule from God. Satans audacity makes him the first to defy and challenge Gods rule, power, and authority. Not only does Satan defy Gods authority, but he also goes to an extent where he tries to usurp Gods authority. Satan is applauded for his bold designs, designs that had never been tried and executed by no one. Satan successfully causes a third of angelic forces to rebel against God. However, Satan loses his quest and is forever condemned to live in hell. Satans determination is revealed, he states better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. Despite the heroic attributes granted to Satan, I affirm that Satan is not a hero because he does not possess traits that I know and believe a hero should have. My view of a hero is that of a virtuous and selfless individual who fights for a cause that is beneficial to mankind. Satan is revealed as a cunning individual, one who has implacable hate and one who has the predisposition to inflict pain upon his enemies. In Miltons Paradise Lost, Satan is not the hero although he is the protagonist of the story; his actions, personality, and characteristics prevent him from being a hero.
Satan is portrayed as a vengeful individual (Bicak 120). I am of the opinion that a hero should not be vengeful. Satan inflicts extreme pain on his enemies, this is not a trait associated with my view of heroism. After being eternally condemned to a life in hell and having accepted his fate, Satan declares eternal war on heaven. Satan declares that his eternal war in heaven will include both force and guile. Satan declares that he is out to conquer the new world as a way of vengeance to God. Even though Satan starts by fighting for liberty, his motives degenerate to vengeful attacks on innocent individuals. Satans motives also degenerate to mere futility because he realizes that he cannot challenge Gods dominion over heaven and earth.
Satan is proud, a trait that is contradictory with my view of heroism. My view of a hero is a person who is modest and does not brag about his abilities. Satans pride and ambition is the cause of his downfall. Satan feels that he is above his fellow angels and God (Del 16). After being defeated by God and eternally being condemned to live in hell, Satan boasts that he is not yet done with his cause. He boasts and lays out plans that signify nothing. Satans speeches appear to be brave, but they are not sincere. Satans plans are described as sound and fury signifying nothing (Milton 38). Even though Satan puts on a brave face', he is desperate, and he has no sure plan of achieving his goal. Satan appears to be a proud braggart. He seems to be one who says a lot but does very little. Satan is involved in pompous speeches. Satan empty words are not inspiring. Therefore, it is not far-fetched to say that Satan is full of empty words. Satan is also revealed as one who is after self-aggrandizement; a hero is not one who is after self- aggrandizement. A hero is one who prioritizes interests of his subjects. Satan is looking for his glory; this is not a character of a hero. It is further reveled that Satans pride and ambition are the cause of his downfall. How glorious once above thy sphere, / Till pride and worse ambition threw me down/ Warring in Heaven against heavens matchless king (4.39-41).
Satan is cunning, a trait that is not associated with my view of a hero. Satan promises the new world to both his angels and rulers of chaos (Hae 330). This is self- contradictory and reveals the true identity of Satan as a cunning individual. Satan promises the new world to rulers of havoc so that they may reign over it and cause havoc. Satan convinces Adam and Eve to eat a fruit from the tree of knowledge, against Gods wishes. As a result, mankind suffers forever as a punishment from God for failing to abide by His rules. Satan does not want to live forever alone in hell. As a result, he decides to recruit human beings to live with him in Hell by convincing them that God does not want them to eat from the tree of knowledge because by doing so, they will have knowledge and wisdom that is akin to Gods. At first, the idea of eating the forbidden fruit and disobeying God seems absurd to Adam and Eve. Satan plans on how to convince Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit before he executes his mission. Satan prepares Eve for the actual temptation by using a dream in which the fruit of the tree of knowledge appears as an unmitigated good. Satan hopes to find Eve alone so that he may deceive her. Satan is ecstatic when he finds Eve alone; he is convinced that there is a higher chance that he will convince her. Satan is convincing and has the power of speech; Eve is amazed to discover that a snake has such a power of speech. The serpent convincingly lies to Eve that his power of speech came after he ate fruit from a certain tree that is endowed with speech and reason. The devil convinces Eve that only good can come from eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Eve plucks the fruit and eats. Without a lot of difficulty, Eve convinces Adam to eat the fruit. As a result, Satan achieves his goal of making mankind disobey God (Shawcross 104). A hero is not cunning to the detriment of his followers. My opinion of a hero is one who makes a decision for the general well-being of his followers, not to their detriment.
Satan has a bad character; my opinion of a hero is one who has a good character. A hero is one who has a noble character and is full of virtue. Even though Satan has a strong character, he does not deserve to be called a hero. Satan is selfish and full of folly. He is an egoist whose interests turn into his personal desires (Hamilton 25). Satans bad character makes it impossible for him to be called a hero; he is also far from admiration based on his bad character. Satan appears to be motivated by jealousy and revenge in his quest. However, it reaches a point when Satan starts to doubt his abilities and his cause. Satan starts to doubt whether it was right for him to be rebellious against God. Ah wherefore! He deserved no such return From me, whom he created what I was In that bright eminence, and with his good upbraided non; nor was his service hard. (4.42-45). Towards the end of the poem, Satan becomes desperate about achieving his objective of contesting Gods dominion. So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, / Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost (4.2.108-109). This reveals that it reaches a point where Satan comes to the realization that he cannot contest Gods dominion over heaven and earth. A hero is one who defies all odds to achieve a particular goal. Given that Satan is unable to achieve his goal, he does not deserve to be called a hero.
Bicak, Ivana. "Transmutations of Satan and Caesar: the Grotesque Mode in Milton's paradise Lost and Lucan's." Milton Quarterly. 49.2 (2015): 112-125. Print.
Del, Olmo L. G. "The Hebrew Bible and Its Influence on Modern Literature." Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages. 26.1 (2000): 1-17. Print.
Hae, Yeon K. "Subtlety As Evil and Milton's Enemies." Milton and Early Modern English Studies). 18.2 (2008): 325-344. Print.
Hamilton, G R. Hero or Fool?: A Study of Milton's Satan. London: G. Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1944. Print.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost, Books 1-2. London: Cambridge University Press, 1972. Print.
Shawcross, John T. "An Early View of Satan As Hero of Paradise Lost." Milton Quarterly. 32.3 (1998): 104. Print.
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