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Satan of paradise lost

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  1. Background on the Satan entities.
  2. Dante's Satan.
  3. Satan appears as the Prince of hell.
  4. Satan and Eden.
  5. Satan's transformations.

Throughout more than three hundred years of criticism on John Milton's Paradise Lost the character Satan has been a subject of controversy for many reasons and from many perspectives. Despite being God's adversary, Milton shows his readers a satanic character with many faces, experiencing different changing emotions, and more inner conflict than any other character within the text of Paradise Lost. However, Satan is not the hero of this epic. Perhaps if Milton was writing a classical epic Satan would be the hero, but Milton wrote his work as
a Christian epic and that distinction predetermines who is good and who is evil. But how did Milton do this? How did he take a character like Satan, whose reputation both inside and out of the literary world takes precedence before him, to make such a sympathetic character that experiences a hero's journey, and ends up as the anti-hero of epic proportions?

[...] This is Satan's first change in appearance that he has intentionally chosen in order to deceive. Also, as a cherub, Satan commits the sin of fraud, which, according to Dante, is the worst of all sins. Since Milton was in fact influenced by Dante, it seems as though Satan starts his journey with the most beautiful and powerful shape he can become, but commits the most vicious of acts. The only option left to Satan is to sink lower and lower in both form and mind. [...]


[...] It is almost as if Milton wrote the character of Satan for the readers own moral judgment and understanding. For once a reader comes to see the evil in Satan, one understands the Christian good. But if one recognizes his own conflicting nature in Satan, as most criticism claims to hold as accurate, than it is as if Milton wants his readers to see the evil inside their own selves, that satanic force that can cause one's own personal fall, in order to prevent it. [...]


[...] It is also when he is sitting atop of the Tree of Life that Satan learns how he can damn this new creation to death, for Adam and Eve reveal through their discussion tat God placed a rule forbidding them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Satan's last transformation before he is caught by the angels and returns to his original shape has been a source of controversy for critics. For the line reads there they found/Squat like a Toad, close at the ear of (Book IV 799-800). [...]

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