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Satan: Hero or Villain?

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Katrina Toth-Penner

Professor, Lynn Pifer



Satan: Hero or Villain?

 Throughout the epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton, Satan’s qualities make him out to be a villain. This opinion is most likely shared and agreed by many because Satan does demonstrate qualities of vengefulness, foolishness, and evil throughout the book. All his qualities and actions, put together, deem Satan worthy of being considered the Villain in Paradise Lost.

Whether it be because God created man kind and then provided the Earth for them or because he has fallen from Heaven, Satan is full of vengeance all throughout the book. In lines 216-220 of Book 1 Satan's plan to cause anguish backfires.

and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shows

On Man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance poured. (1.216-220)

His evil was supposed to bring misery to Adam, Eve, and the Earth but instead it brought goodness, grace, and mercy. From there, Satan felt confused, furious, and even more so, vengeful.

Satan’s malice is demonstrated again in the book when he decides to deceive Adam and Eve into eating from the tree of knowledge. Satan does so when he “enters into the serpent sleeping.” He then speaks, “flattering” Eve and convincing her to eat of the fruit. Satan’s way of tricking eve and the pleasure he gets from doing so show his villainous mind and his true character. For it is very difficult to cause such dissent without any feelings of guilt or remorse.

Another time when Satan’s Ruthlessness is shown is in the beginning of the book where his first transgression against god is explained. In this part of the poem, Satan’s disdainfulness is shown as he attempts to put himself above all others, in the place of God.

To set himself in glory above his peers,

He trusted to have equaled the most high

If he opposed; and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God

Raised impious war in heaven and battle proud

With vain attempt. (1.39-44).

Satan’s willingness to create division in heaven through war shows his vainness. Moreover, the ways in which encourages others to follow him in is wickedness also demonstrate this.

Satan’s true evil character can be witnessed throughout the poem an array of times. Some readers will find it hard to not feel sympathy for him at one point or another, throughout the book, but do not let this fool you. At some points, you might even forget that Satan is the bad guy, but that’s what Miltons wants you to do. He wants you to be drawn in and allured by Satan's character, only so he can show us what's right and correct our errors. Satan is the ultimate villain in the poem and there is little to none, argument otherwise. His thirst for revenge, his foolish ways, and his evil overthrow any good qualities you may find of him. That is why Satan is a Villain.



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