Critically examine Milton's treatment of Satan's character in Paradise Lost?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are some points about Satan from Paradise Lost:

  • "Lucifer" means "light bearer."
  • means "enemy" or "adversary" in Hebrew
  • Ungrateful for God’s blessings
  • Unafraid of being put to death or being damned eternally
  • His greatest flaw is pride
  • Cast down from heaven, alienated from the godly
  • Deteriorates from a mighty fallen angel to a serpent
  • Unable to reconcile his eternal punishment
  • A picture of constant intellectual activity
  • "Milton's portrayal of Satan is honest and reflects an important truth: evil is powerful because it is attractive, and this is part of its danger."
  • He is an alazon (an impostor who thinks he is better than he really is)
  • "Robert M. Adams and George M. Logan point out in their introduction to the poem in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, [Satan's energy] is ' 'energy in a bad cause," even if it is heroically exercised."
  • He becomes heroic for his rebellion to the Romantic authors later
  • Evolves into the Byronic Hero: •wounded or physically, disabled in some way •moody, mysterious, and/or gloomy •passionate (both in terms of sexuality and deep emotions generally) •remorse laden (for some unnamed sin, a hidden curse, or crime) •unrepentant (despite remorse) •persecuted by fate •self-reliant (often rejecting people on both physical and emotional levels)