Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus of Nazareth, the tempted, an embodiment of the poet’s religious philosophy and ideals. He is reasonable, intelligent, and holy. Pronounced the beloved Son of God at his baptism, he enters the desert to meditate on the course he should choose to fulfill his destiny as the Saviour of humankind. His self-communion and his troubled dreams show His humanity and prevent His becoming a mere theological abstraction. Superior to both physical and spiritual temptations, He overcomes Satan and redeems humankind from its fallen state caused when Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation.
Satan, the tempter, the great Dictator of Hell. Debased from the splendid, though tarnished, rebel of Paradise Lost (1667), he is a sly, lying trickster. His choice of temptations for Jesus shows shrewdness, but shorn of understanding of God, he lacks wisdom. Frustrated by the fortitude and virtue of Jesus, he lapses into snarling and futile rage. His violence recoils on himself, and astonished, he falls a second time, completely conquered.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist, the trumpet-voiced “great Proclaimer.” Satan learns at the baptism of Jesus by John that he now has a terrible adversary among men.
Belial (BEE-lee-ehl), the self-indulgent fallen angel. Lustful himself, he thinks lust the perfect...
(The entire section is 291 words.)
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