When Good, Bad, and Evil Don’t Matter: An Analysis of the Characterization of Satan in Paradise Lost


  • Colin Adler


John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost has long been equally regarded as one of the most brilliant and most complicated works in the history of literature. While Milton himself claims to write in the poem in order to “justify the ways of God to men,” he sometimes appears to depict God in an unfavorable light while also giving Satan various qualities that can be said to make him a sympathetic or even heroic character, rather than simply portraying him as villainous and objectively evil (Black, 1018). While scholars of Biblical literature tend to balk at the notion of a heroic Satan, precedents set by Grecian heroes such as Achilles and Odysseus in Homeric epics suggest that Lucifer would be considered worthy of emulation and praise in the ancient Hellenic hero cult. Ultimately, the characterization of Milton’s Satan as hero, villain, or something in-between depends on the cultural lens through which the poem is viewed. 






JUROS Arts & Humanities