Analysis Of The Heroic Hero In John Milton's Paradise Lost

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“There is such a thing as a good woman and a good slave, even though one of these is perhaps deficient and the other generally speaking inferior.” With this statement, Aristotle, in his Poetics, suggests that unlikely people could appear as characters possessing true heroic goodness. Despite this, when people hear the word “hero,” they usually think of a courageous man who fights for the greater good. Perhaps they think of a soldier in battle, an advocate, or even the fictional Superman. While these personas may seem appropriate for today’s interpretation of “hero,” Aristotle’s hero is a tragic one. Heroes, as defined by Aristotle, can come in many perhaps improbable forms, and the hero in John Milton’s Paradise Lost is no exception. Milton’s …show more content…
Aristotle says that the fall, or peripeteia, of the hero “from good fortune to bad fortune” (21; ch.13, sec.7.2) must be “due not to depravity but to a serious error” (21; ch.13, sec.7.2) on the hero’s part. Eve before the fall is perfect, so her human tendencies are not imperfections and therefore she does not possess a “depravity” (21; ch.13, sec.7.2) as Aristotle warns does not elicit itself to a tragic hero. Because Eve has curiosity and ambition, and these traits, although making her relatable and thus allowing the audience to pity her and making her fall elicit fear, also lead to her downfall. After she leaves Adam out of ambition, Satan’s “words replete with guile / Into her heart too easy entrance won” (IX.733-734). Only when Eve acts on her ambition, is Satan able to tempt her. She makes an error in judgement and thus falls. Eve falls out of fortune with God, losing her place in Paradise by the end of the poem and landing herself a lofty …show more content…
Her recognition is also a heroic act as more recently defined because, without her begging Adam to forgive her and taking all the blame, the human race would never have existed. Only with Eve’s sacrifice can her and Adam reconcile and beget the human race. Eve’s true recognition lies in realizing that salvation for herself, her husband, and the human race lies in her imploring Adam for his forgiveness. By painting Eve as the tragic hero, Milton is able to “justify the ways of God to men” (I.26), his entire purpose for writing Paradise Lost. Eve’s role as the tragic hero justifies the hierarchical nature of the Christian society, with women placed firmly below men because of their role in illustrating the fall. If Adam had been the one tempted to the forbidden fruit, there could be no justification for the hierarchy of society. Eve is not a blank, naturally sinful character. Her desire to realize her place, whether it be subservient to Adam or equal to him, was placed in her by God from the

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