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December 19, 2012

Paradise Lost

The common structures of heroism in narratives usually arise from an individual who has faced challenges, but has managed to reinstate his or herself. The audience is more likely to establish a connection with an oppressed individual who is struggling, than an endowed individual. The core reasoning behind this is mainly inspiration (Lost 8). In the same thought, a show of courage is more admirable than that of submission. Milton’s literary piece, Paradise lost, has received controversies by many scholars regarding his use of characterization to achieve heroism. Paradise lost paints a picture of hell and heaven, as well as angels and human beings. Biblical and other teachings have led most people to associate God as a hero and Satan as a villain. However, Milton’s work gives an insight into Satan’s “side of the story”, which may in some ways depict him as a heroic figure (Murphy 4).

God is presented as the ruler of the universe, who is all-powerful and omnipresent. The son of God and the angels are also endowed with some superhuman qualities. However, Satan is portrayed s an ordinary creature. In this respect, the audience is likely to be detached from the representations of God and his angels since they are identifiable as illusions. On the contrary, the audience is likely to connect with Satan, whose character is humbled by his challenges through alienation. In addition, the representation of God as a ruler highlights his relation with his subjects (Lost 3). God provides rules, which He expects his subjects to abide to or risk punishment and to the extent of eternal damnation. Through this means, is Satan and some of the angels of God are later evicted from heaven and into hell. Milton unconsciously contradicts the roles of God and Satan as leaders, which associates Satan as a hero (Lewalski 157). To explain, God does not consult his subjects when making rules. Furthermore, he does not offer explanations regarding why some rules are set in place. Satan, on the other hand, as a leader in hell consults with the evicted angels and asks them to provide their opinions towards their fight against oppression. In this way, Satan is painted as a true leader while God can be accused to use dictatorship.

In an instance when Satan asks God the reason to which human beings are not equal to God, and yet they were created in the same image, makes Satan’s character admirable to the audience. In this aspect, Satan demonstrates a courage most humans would not be in a position to reveal when in the face of their creator. Ideally, the audience is filled with questions, from unexplained situations, which believers have, implemented through faith only (Lewis 19). In this respect, Satan is painted as an ambassador who in this case instigates the right for explanations. Satan’s defiance to God is also painted as an attribute since he is portrayed to stand for what he believes in. In Book 1 (I. 263), Satan is quoted “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”. This statement in some ways shows his bitterness and acceptance of his reality (Murphy 4). Additionally, he shows despair in his circumstance through self-criticism, which compels the, audience to employ empathy “Me Miserable? Which way shall I flie infinite wrauth, and infinite despair? (Milton IV, 71-5). Which way I flie is hell; myself am hell” (Lewalski 159)<…>

Despite these factors, Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost is still the closest thing to a hero. Christ’s roles are not independent and, therefore, he is ruled out as a hero. In addition, God is powerful to begin with, and his representation associates the audience with fear towards him, which also does not make him a hero. Adam, on the other hand, is faithful to the will of God and accepts his punishment after committing a sin. Using the perception of heroism, this depiction of Adam shows him as one with a weakness of character; portrayed by unsighted submissions. This thus leaves Satan, whom through various illustrations allows the audience to show emotion towards his struggle and courage when even in tough situations. Furthermore, Satan’s contrasting personalities and characterizations enable the audience to see him as a victim. Most heroic figures grow from victims; Milton’s Satan is simply not given the chance.

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