John Milton 's Paradise Lost Essay

703 Words Oct 25th, 2016 3 Pages
Book One of John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost hones in on the story of one very familiar main character: Satan. After Milton’s brief explanation of how and for whom he is writing the poem, Satan appears with a distraught Beelzebub after they and several others were sent to “bottomless perdition” (47). Satan is remarkably calm in regards to what has occurred and aims to rise up against God, seeking to create as much evil as he can in the world in order to defy God and God’s goodness. Throughout the whole first book, one hears of Satan’s goals and ambitions, his leadership qualities, and his sheer optimism. One hears no direct dialogue from God or, other than Beelzebub, from any of the other characters in the text. This can leave many readers with a startling question; is Satan the protagonist in Paradise Lost? Does Milton have a specific motive for giving Satan a voice, and what does this say about the religious connotations in the text?
A standard definition of the term “protagonist” is “the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text.” It, surprisingly, does not mention anything about the major character having positive attributes. Although some definitions define the protagonist as the “hero,” many protagonists do not successfully carry out what they mean to accomplish, such as tragic heroes like Hamlet or Oedipus. In this case, Satan is very much a protagonist, as he is the central character of Book One and his goals…

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