Paradise Lost

Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost is Characterized by Arrogance, not Heroism

Milton dedicated his life to the war of good and evil; this is apparent in his epic poem "Paradise Lost," but also in his political battles against the Royalists who abused the power of the monarchy and the Presbyterians who wanted to mandate religion. As a supporter of the Puritan cause, both were great evils in the mind of Milton. He believed both undermined the freedom that Puritans held prominent, and dedicated his hand to be "used with all its might in the cause of his country and of liberty" (A Brief Life of Milton, 327). However, the discernment of "evil" is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, shaped by political and cultural, as well as religious, values. By the time he created Paradise Lost, Milton had become all too familiar with darkness, both in a physical and social sense: his own political and religious beliefs had been cast in an evil light, and left him isolated from society and nearly blind. Similarly, in the light of Hell in Paradise Lost, Milton's Satan seems somewhat valiant. He characterizes the "apostate angel" to be an underdog of sorts, and endows him with a tragic grandeur that can be interpreted as warranting sympathy (I: 125). Though the "infernal...

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