Paradise Lost

A Devil in Limbo: Opening Council with Conflicting Messages College

When Satan says “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n,” he becomes a true advocate for freewill. He has gone against what he considered a tyrannical leader, lost, and reemerges as a classical tragic hero reminiscent of the likes of Ulysses. Sir Walter Raleigh compares Satan to Prometheus, yet adding that his “fearless antagonism of Omnipotence makes him either a fool or a hero.” With the proliferation of copies of Paradise Lost throughout the centuries, Satan emerges as the star character of the Epic. The fascination lies in his charming oratory skills, and beauty, juxtaposed with an uncanny ability to awaken pathos in the reader. The place of Satan as character in Paradise Lost is the great ongoing debate. Is he a tragic hero? Is he an irredeemable villain? Is he a farce of political power? Book I seems to set him up as a tragic hero, with the beginning in media res, invocation of the Muse, and following the conventions of an Epic poem. Book II however, starts off with a decidedly political setting, possibly highlighting Milton’s own political stance, as he went into hiding for supporting a republican revolution even after the Restoration. Through a series of carefully crafted devices, Milton writes a sophisticate...

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