Paradise Lost Questions and Answers
by John Milton

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Why is Satan considered the hero in Paradise Lost?

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The poet William Blake once famously said—or infamously, depending how you look at it—that in his portrayal of Satan, Milton was of the devil's party without knowing it. The Romantic generation, taking its cue from Blake, hailed Satan as a hero because they saw in him a proud, defiant individual with a strong personality, battling against the seemingly arbitrary forces of authority in the shape of the Judeo-Christian God. Romantics like Shelley, who developed a similar theme in Prometheus Bound, believed that Milton's Satan epitomized their constant struggle against the authoritarian structures of society which they felt held them back, stifling the creativity of the individual artist.

It is important to recognize that this portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost is by no means universally accepted. Indeed, the general consensus among literary scholars is that Satan is more of a parody of a tragic hero rather than an actual one, not least because he isn't a fundamentally decent character...

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