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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Satan Analysis

Essay by   •  April 10, 2017  •  Book/Movie Report  •  573 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,263 Views

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In Paradise Lost by John Milton, Satan takes on a variety of character changes. Milton depicts this transformation through Books 1, 2, and 4. I believe that Milton does this to create a compelling and thought-provoking representation of the human struggle with sin.

As Milton’s epic opens, Satan manifests a remarkably almighty and prideful nature. We see this, for example when Satan claims that he can make a heaven out of hell. (Milton 1:254-255) This absurd claim communicates that Satan doesn’t need God or salvation. He seems to think that his intellect is as marvelous as God’s will. (Milton 1:631-634) Satan attests that he is by no means in need of God’s providence.

We see Satan in Book 1 and 2 as the main character who has some great feat to overcome. (Milton 1:629-630) So far, we have yet to meet God or the Son, and therefore know nothing about His character. Since we do not know anything about God’s grace or His omnipotence the reader has nothing to contrast against Satan’s pride. This ignorance makes us wrestle with the idea that Satan might in fact be the hero of the epic. Satan makes sin look glorious and God like the enemy; "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!". (Milton 1:263) I believe that this presumption is quickly put to rest when Milton describes Satan’s relationship with Death and Sin. On page 39, Milton describes Satan’s corruption as we read of how Sin, Death, and Satan are all connected to form a perverted and dark family tree. This detailed personification helps the reader to distinctly understand the complexity of Satan’s foul character.

Now that we have gotten a glimpse of God and the Son, it is evident that Satan is indeed the evil one. The small glimpse of love and grace that God and the Son illustrate in Book 3 is such a stark contrast to the prideful and ignorant mentality that Satan has previously possessed. As Satan enters the garden in Book 4, his nature and our perspective of him changes.

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