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In Paradise Lost, is the epic hero Satan or Adam?

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jorican21 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 1, 2008 at 7:06 AM via web

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In Paradise Lost, is the epic hero Satan or Adam?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 2, 2008 at 12:41 AM (Answer #1)

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The hero of a piece of literature is usually the protagonist, or main character. If that were the case with "Paradise Lost," then we'd have to say that Satan is the hero because he is the protagonist. However, he does not behave in the way a classical hero should. Satan, in this epic, is what we call an "antihero." That is, he is in the typical hero role, but he has none of the typical heroic qualities. The Columbia Encyclopedia describes the antihero as the

principal character of a modern literary or dramatic work who lacks the attributes of the traditional protagonist or hero. The anti-hero's lack of courage, honesty, or grace, his weaknesses and confusion, often reflect modern man's ambivalence toward traditional moral and social virtues.

 

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mccattack | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 1, 2009 at 7:39 AM (Answer #2)

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Some would argue that Satan could be viewed as the epic hero in Paradise Lost. This is because most people can identify with him- he's a sinner, just like human beings. His biggest sin is Pride, which could be viewed as his "tragic flaw", a characteristic of epic heroes. In addition, the story goes into more detail about Satan than the character who John Milton actually intended to be the epic hero- the Son of God.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted October 1, 2009 at 10:10 PM (Answer #3)

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The 'lost Archangel' in Milton's epic Paradise Lost may appear to possess certain heroic qualities like leadership, initiative & fortitude, especially in the first two books; but in the overall perspective of Milton's poem in twelve books, it is Adam rather than Satan who should be called the hero. A creature, blindly governed by 'pride', 'ambition', 'jealousy', 'hatred', 'malice' and so on, can not be reckoned as the hero of a work, the purpose of which was 'to justify the ways of God to men'. Satan is God's 'arch-enemy' who tempted Eve, the mother of mankind, to initiate the Fall of Man through transgression/ disobedience of God's will. He made it clear that doing anything good should never be his task, but to do ill would be his 'sole delight'.

Like the sea-monster, Leviathan, deluding the sailors, Satan also deceived the angels in Heaven with the temptation of a shelter in waging a regicide, 'an impious war' against God. Defeated and doomed to suffer in 'bottomless perdition' in Hell, Satan still conspired to erupt in the Garden of Eden and allure the parents of mankind to their fall from the state of perfect happiness.

Satan is a liar & conspirator, a creature unduly seeking equality with the Creator, suffering from 'a sense of injured merit', and through the twelve books of Milton's poem he shows a steady degeneration from the brightest of all angels to the 'infernal serpent', from one 'born of light'[Lucifer] to an eavesdropper, a fallen, unsalvaged embodiment of Evil.

Such a creature can hardly be the hero; the hero or the protagonist may have committed an error, but viciousness and criminality can never be the characteristics of a hero. Adam, the father of mankind, a pre-figuration of the 'second Adam' i.e. Christ, is the true hero of Paradise Lost. It would be unwise to restrict our reading and assessment of Satan to Books 1 & 2 of Milton's poem only. Milton surely didn't belong to 'the devil's party'.

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tikilin | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 1, 2011 at 4:14 AM (Answer #5)

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is jesus

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c--------- | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted July 4, 2011 at 11:39 PM (Answer #6)

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the beginng of the 1st book and the Milton's description of satan is inn the favour of satan to be called as the hero of the epic.as he has been ascribed the heroic qualities of ambition, leadership,grandure and rebel to conventional laws and rules.

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mikegormaly | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2011 at 7:32 AM (Answer #7)

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He is the hero of the Paradise Lost in the same way Macbeth is the hero of Shakespeare's play, a tragic hero, and a tragic hero by definition begins of high rank, with a noble character and falls from glory because of a character flaw which is most often pride.

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misssbah | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 10, 2012 at 9:54 PM (Answer #8)

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Well,it could be both because both of them lost their high stature.First Adam, a man who had disobeyed God's command and in result he mislayed his luxurious life in heaven,in order to stay with eve in the awful life on earth as a punishment.Then comes satan,who also disobeyed god's order and was thrown in hell.Both had the tragedy in their life or we can also take them as a tragic heroes because they had high degrees,honourable and  fatal flaw.All these qualities lies in tragic hero,but the best answer would be satan.

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