Satan: the True Hero of Paradise Lost Essay example

1641 Words Oct 19th, 1999 7 Pages
The argument over who is the true protagonist of Paradise Lost, has been brewing for centuries. One would gather that Milton, a Puritan, would have no problem casting God as the hero, and Satan as the antagonist. But looking back in history, Milton saw that most epic heroes had conflicts that prevented them from accomplishing their goals. God and his Son have no conflict, and Adam's story doesn't really begin until the Fall of Man. Therefore, Milton was forced to select Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost because he adheres to the guidelines of epic poetry set by Homer, Vergil and others. There many examples of how Milton uses and edits the tradition of these previous epics in the formation of the Devil as a hero.

One of the most basic
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War then, War open or understood, must be resolved.(660-662)" The fallen angels respond with a rowdy confirmation, waving their swords in the and hurling defiance at Heaven.

Milton has given you Satan in the tradition of the epic hero. Even though he knows Satan is not the "good-guy", he does possess some of the qualities of a hero.

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He is the pinnacle of the assembled crew, hailed even by enemies as the strongest of the lot. All the angels face a bad situation (exile in Hell) and yet Satan exhorts them all with a speech. He recounts how they survived some bad encounters in the past, and then says they will survive their present predicament. His speech also spurns the angels into some positive action. The action of war against God sets a task out in front of Satan. This quest allows Satan to fulfill another quintessential element of the epic hero.

In almost every epic ever written the hero has to overcome obstacles that stand in their way to complete their daunting task. In The Odyssey, Odysseus is away from his home 20 years, 10 fighting the Trojan War and another 10 years trying desperately to get back home. Odysseus quest or journey is to travel against the will of Poseidon to get back home to Ithaca. The invocation of the muses, describes most but not all of the trials and tribulations of Odysseus.

"Tell me the story of a man skilled in all ways of contending the wanderer, harried for years

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