Discuss Milton’s portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost.

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Milton's portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost is that of a fallen angel who is morally degenerate.

Over the centuries, numerous critics and commentators, most notably the poet William Blake, have argued that Satan is presented as a kind of hero, bravely standing up to a cruel, tyrannical God.

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Milton's portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost is that of a fallen angel who is morally degenerate.

Over the centuries, numerous critics and commentators, most notably the poet William Blake, have argued that Satan is presented as a kind of hero, bravely standing up to a cruel, tyrannical God.

Yet if one examines Paradise Lost carefully, it becomes clear that this is a misreading of Milton's Satan. For what's most notable about the character of Satan is that he degenerates as the poem progresses, becoming a solitary, isolated figure, no longer the impressive figure of the first two books in the poem. There, Satan was a vaguely sympathetic character, a rebel against an angry, powerful God.

But from book 4 onwards, there is no doubt that Satan is given to us as the absolute embodiment of evil, so jealous and resentful of the Almighty that he is prepared to ruin his perfect creation by introducing sin and death into the world. This he does by tricking Eve into eating the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Initially, there may have been something vaguely admirable about Satan's attempts to assert his freedom from God. But by the time he's turned into a serpent to tempt Eve into eating of the Tree of Knowledge, his main motivation isn't freedom, even glory or renown, but purely and solely to destroy God's creation. This is why Satan is typically not regarded as the hero of the piece.

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