In what ways does Milton's narrative voice undercut Satan's heroism in Books I and II of Paradise Lost?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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While it is easy to view Satan as a type of epic hero in the first books of Paradise Lost, Milton does include descriptions to portray Satan as other than a victim when it comes to his fate in Hell.  For example, Milton creates a Satan who is beautiful and immense.  Readers have a difficult time admiring or pitying someone who is Satan's size and who apparently had as many admirable characteristics as he does in the poem.

Similarly, Milton includes Beelzebub as a sounding board for Satan's diatribes.  Beelzebub reminds the reader that Satan wasn't sentenced alone; and even though Satan might believe that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven," unlike a hero, he makes that decision selfishly--not heroically--for no one else but himself.