• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair How does Milton use the character of Satan in Paradise Lost Book One

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

?Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair? How does Milton use the character of Satan in Paradise Lost Book One Milton?s ?Paradise Lost? is not only an exploration of classical events detailed in the Bible, but also a development of them. A dangerous feat, considering the dominant hold that religion had on 17th century England, Milton?s epic poem dares to stray away from the literally believed stories of the Bible and delves into the unexplained and unknown. This is most apparent with his focus on Hell and its sovereign Satan, as these two focal points of Book One are, for the most part, unreferenced in the Bible. However, without any previous scriptural guidelines or knowledge to follow, Milton was granted free reign to develop the character of Satan as he wished, and this lead to him being used in a number of ways. As an epic poem, Paradise Lost requires the presence of a tragic hero. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a character of noble stature or greatness who experiences a downfall as a result of their own mistakes or flaws. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, if Milton were to focus his poem on the confrontation and usurp of God?s rule, then he needed a strong character to lead the opposition. Milton?s desire to use Satan in this way is expressed through the character?s own admissions, as Satan, during his numerous speeches not only compares himself to God, but questions his power altogether. Satan states his plan to ?deifie this power? as he and his army are ?in arms not worse, in foresight much advanc?t.? This clearly contradicts two believed truths of the time: that of God?s omnipotence and also his omniscience. This is because Satan believes that the army he has assembled before him, comprised of fallen angels, is sufficient to dethrone God and that now, God no longer has surprise in his favour. This suggestion is more subtle than the first but; I believe it conveys a more important point. In Satan?s mind, the only reason that he was initially defeated was due to the fact that he was unaware of the capabilities of God, but now he has experienced the ?tyranny of Heav?n.? In doing this, Milton indirectly challenges the omniscience that was thought to be held by God, as he portrays Satan as having knowledge that exceeds God. ...read more.

Conclusion

By portraying Satan as the most human character in Book One, Milton is able to use him as a vehicle to represent contextual issues. During the 17th century, the monarchy had a firm grip on politics and power, but Milton?s own beliefs and loyalties lay with Cromwell and the republican movement. This political ideology is represented clearly in Satan?s speeches, as he frequently refers to the oppressive nature of heaven. As demonstrated previously, Satan already believed in the ?tyranny of Heav?n? and these tyrannous actions are demonstrated by Milton. ?That Glory never shall his wrath or might/ Extort from me? is one reference to this idea, and it alludes to the role of the monarchy at the time. This is by suggesting that those with power use it to extort and corrupt. When considered in the context of the time, this can be interpreted as a criticism of the English monarchy, which had to be conveyed subtly in order to avoid treason. So as demonstrated, the use and functions of Satan are not limited to that of the ?Arch-Enemy.? Through his elaborate descriptions, but subtle hints, Milton is able to set-up the epic battle between God and Satan, and in doing this in Book One he is able to effectively engage the reader in his epic poem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Poets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Poets essays

  1. Referring to either The Flea and/or The Broken Heart do you think that it ...

    His clever use of persuading her with the use of metaphor shows that the metaphor is more than just a desire to startle At the end of the second stanza Donne tells his mistress it's a sacrilege to kill the flea which links back to the earlier religious imagery.

  2. In Miltons Paradise Lost, God is portrayed as having limited influence and contact with ...

    Instead, God chose once again to remain passive and allow things to go along for awhile.

  1. To what extent is Paradise Lost a gothic text?

    Whilst the characters are in a supernatural setting, the audience can still relate to them. The idea that the breaking of social and normal moral codes is an important part of the poem is conveyed in the first line of the poem is "of man's first disobedience and the fruit/ of that forbidden tree".

  2. For a modern reader, Paradise Lost is alienating, coming as it does from a ...

    references which, without footnotes, would almost certainly make no sense to the modern reader and, even with footnotes, fragments the reader's enjoyment of the narrative and make reading 'Paradise Lost' seem more like a literary exercise than anything else. Again, the first line is an example of the obstructive nature

  1. Paradise Lost. The epic features of the writing get in the way of Milton's ...

    It also paints a vivid and dramatic picture of Hell. A perhaps less successful epic simile is the one in which Milton compares Satan's shield to the "moon". One the one hand, the comparison is appropriate given that Milton tries to portray Satan as a being that encompasses human proportions.

  2. Free essay

    Dante's Inferno: Dante As Poet And Character And Application

    Having said this, that Dante the poet, just like Virgil the poet, represents reason above all things and Dante the character represents human emotion that which brings individuality to every person too, Dante's involvement in the Comedy is of two-fold in nature.

  1. Can the devil be an epic hero? This seems to be the case in ...

    Satan loses his heroic qualities. He tricks Adam and Eve into their Fall, a non-heroic action. Furthermore, he realizes that Hell is inside him and is part of his being, which shows a digression of his character. And finally, he turns into a snake, losing his former angelic appearance.

  2. Satan's Pride in Paradise Lost

    669, I) Satan, with all his pride, believes that he and his demons will actually be able to defeat God.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work