John Milton's Paradise Lost:,

Character analysis:

Satan is the first major character introduced in the poem. He is introduced in Hell after a failed rebellion to take control of Heaven from God. Satan’s desire to rebel against his creator stems from his unwillingness to accept the fact that he is a created being and that he is not self sufficient, which roots in turn from his extreme Pride. One of the ways he tries to justify his rebellion against God is by claiming that he and the angels are self-created, declaring that the angels are "self-begot, self-raised" thereby eliminating God’s authority over them as their creator. Satan’s views are grossly distorted, however.

Satan is narcissistic to the point of being delusional, as shown by his encounter with Sin and Death. Although they are introduced as if they are separate entities from Satan, Sin and Death can both be read as delusions of Satan’s mind. Sin describes herself as sprouting out of Satan’s mind at the time he conceived of his plot to overthrow God [compare with the New Testament book of James, Chapter 1, verse 15], which perhaps could be taken for the fact that she is only a part of Satan, specifically his sinful scheme to overthrow God that he is projecting into the world. She is described as originally having the same features as Satan, which shows the perversion of his narcissism, because Satan engages Sin in incestuous intercourse. Satan is narcissistic to the point of being aroused by his own image, and from his incest with his "daughter" Sin, Death is born. Death too, however, may be a delusion of Satan’s mind, having no substance or form, no real power.

This reflects Milton’s Christian theology, because Christianity sees death as having no real power also. Satan’s delusion is also shown when he leaves Hell. He goes up to the gates, which fly quickly open before him. Satan sets out to portray God as a tyrant, yet here Milton shows us that Satan is not even locked in Hell. Milton portrays Hell also as a state of Satan’s mind in the opening of Book 4, talking of how Satan has "Hell within him; for within him Hell/ He brings…". Milton shows us that Satan is creating his own internal Hell by his delusions and narcissism. The fact that Satan is such a driving force within the poem has been the subject of a large amount of scholarly debate, with positions ranging anywhere from views such as that of William Blake who stated that Milton "wrote in fetters when wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it" to the critic William H. Marshall’s interpretation that the poem is in fact a Christian moral tale, but that Milton fails to portray his original intent because the reader’s emotional reaction to the story must be "subordinated to [his] intellectual response to the explicit assertion in the final books of the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall."

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