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Thread: Milton's Satan

  1. #1
    Heaven's light arabian night's Avatar
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    Milton's Satan

    hii all
    i got that question about Milton's satan ....they want us to explain how Milton presents the character of Satan.
    some would say as a heroic leader...on other hand, others would refuse giving him the title of a hero...

    Can you tell me in brief the ideal answer for this question and whether you agree or not?
    Thanks in Advance
    "The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by arabian night
    hii all
    i got that question about Milton's satan ....they want us to explain how Milton presents the character of Satan.
    some would say as a heroic leader...on other hand, others would refuse giving him the title of a hero...
    Very interesting, arabian night.
    During his contemporary time, many readers looked down upon John Milton for his depiction of Satan; of course, Milton formed him into something evil, but he definitely (the former) also made him into a heroic leader, forming somewhat of an admiration and sympathy for Satan.
    To me, no matter how evil the formation of Satan by John Milton (or Dante Alighieri, for that matter), it never subtracts from his quality in leadership, rebellion, and slyness, though I cannot call myself an admirer. In essence, one could say similar things about other seemingly evil, and more real, characters, such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Nebuchadnezzar, and Alexander the Great.

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    Heaven's light arabian night's Avatar
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    Thanks mono for replying....
    i found what you said true and maybe cuz satan was the protagonist, readers automaticlly find themselves attracted to the hero and identify with him...good point mono ...esp that milton's epic was written for intellectual readers that would understand his point....
    Thanks again
    "The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!"
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    Yes, I do not intend to express too much sympathy for Milton's Satan, as he really received what he asked, but evil, too, though I have no attraction to it, must have certain qualities within it that makes it succeed, or get close. In Paradise Lost, when Satan attempted domination over all, he could not have succeeded in the Garden of Eden, tempting Adam and Eve, without a degree of cleverness. I, furthermore, loved how Milton appealed to humankind in his work; both Adam and Eve, oblivious to their surroundings, appeared these ignorant yet innocent beings, in the same way humans look at some animals, for example, making them more easily tempted. How did you perceive Adam and Eve in connection with all their surroundings, arabian night?
    To tell all honesty, I cannot understand the work entirely philosophically, but still found it absolutely fascinating, concluding with the moral that goodness prospers (expressed mostly in Paradise Regained).

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    Heaven's light arabian night's Avatar
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    Hmm as an answer to your question yeah I believe that they were new creatures who as in their instinct “forbidden fruit is sweet” they did not listen to god’s word when he commanded them not to eat from that tree ..and they were tempted by satan and he promised to tempt all human beings till the day of judgement but adam and eve regert it later and yeah god forgave them… as in my religion it is different only in reason why Satan tempted Adam and eve and why he was out of the mercy of God…..I guess in Christianity it’s because he wanted to be in the same position as god (is that right??) But in my religion which is Islam…we believe that he was out of the mercy because he didn’t obey god and he did not show his respect to the new creature as God has asked him…Satan out of pride and arrogance refused and said: “I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire, whilst him Thou didst create of clay' (Sad 38:76; cf. Al-Hijr 15:33).That’s why when we study this in our university and have exams we have to know how does Satan is presented in Christianity because it is in a way different from ours… I am afraid that I did not answer the question well
    Sorry for blabbing a lot and thank you for replying again …wish me good luck
    Last edited by arabian night; 06-15-2005 at 12:42 PM.
    "The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!"
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    In essence, one could say similar things about other seemingly evil, and more real, characters, such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Nebuchadnezzar, and Alexander the Great.
    Quid veritatis in verbis tuis?

    Napoleon evil????

    The point is quite different, Milton "uses" Dante but is so far from him, his interlocutor is Tasso, Milton's Satan comes partly from Tasso's Satan, he is mighty and intectually independent, he is finally a man. Whereas God is a sort of machine. Tasso and Milton were strongly christian, but they (and Tasso above all) could not forget the ideals of Renaissance, I mean, Neoplatonic ideas which pretended that languages, arts, "sciences" could all aim at the same target: the triad good=beauty=truth (you remember Keats?). Cultural policies in the period were harshly against that, and Tasso and Milton, approving of these attitudes, were psychologically forced to abolish humanistic theories and "call them back" through some details or negative characters like Satan.

    So, Satan represents: man with all his faults and crimes and pride and intelligence and doubts and opinions and force and affected by the call of the senses.

    God is the serene perfection which they want to reach.

    He is not an hero because a hero is a character who is regarded by society as a model for its members to be followed. (just like greek heroes).

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    Arrow not a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxos
    He is not an hero because a hero is a character who is regarded by society as a model for its members to be followed. (just like greek heroes).
    That may be the casual definition, but definitely not the literary one. Macbeth is acknowledged as a tragic hero and Milton's Satan can be viewed in a similar light.

    Part of what makes Lucifer a great character is that our own desire to be defiant (evil, sinful, whatever) is fulfilled in his character. Adam and Eve are victims-- by choice, yes-- when they sin, but Satan is evil by will and action in almost everything he does and thinks. Some would label him Byronic, but I would call that a comparison belittling to the impact that Satan (both real and/or imagined) has had on humanity. He is indeed a "prowling lion" (can't think of bible verse reference).

    A great synopsis of the "angelic argument" is found in CS Lewis's preface to "The Screwtape Letters".

  8. #8
    In the long (5 hour) PBS (Public Television) interview of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers, there is a brief segment in which Campbell relates a Sufi tradition about Satan. God casts Satan out of heaven with a stentorian voice saying "Begone!" and that last word of God is all Satan has to remember God by. The idea is that Satan really loves God, and the separation is punishment. Campbell chuckles and adds, "The last words he hears are 'Go to Hell', and that memory is all Satan has to cling to for eternity." I thought it was a very interesting story.

    Sufi spirituality always seems to be greatly concerned with the notion of "a beloved" and yearning after the beloved. There is one Sufi story about a Fakir (religous ascetic), who is sitting by the roadside, begging, when he sees another Fakir passing by in a determined fashion and a quick pace. "Where are you going?" he calls out to the passerby, who replies "I am going to visit with God." The first Fakir shouts "Well, ask God what he thinks of my prayers." A few days later, our Fakir sees his fellow Fakir returning. "Did you speak with God?" he asks. The second Fakir replies, "Why yes, and he told me to tell you that he detests your prayers. They are the worst he has ever heard." The first Faker jumps up and down joyfully, laughing and shouting. "Why are you so happy?" the puzzled traveller inquires. "Because God heard my prayers!", answers the first. Once again, we see something beloved in the act of hearing and listening, even if what is heard is discouraging.


    My favorite line in Milton is where Satan says "Evil, be thou my good." This devilish esthetic becomes interesting when examined in the light of Socrates' proposition that "all by nature desire the good, and no one willingly chooses what they consider to be not good", along with Plato's Euthypro problem, "is the good good by fiat simply because it is what God desires, or does God desire what is good for some inherent quality residing in goodness (or substitute virtue, morality, holiness, or righteousness for the word good,if you prefer).

    I was a great fan of the cartoon series "Earthworm Jim". In one episode, through some bizarre radioactive accident, Earthworm Jim spawns an evil twin. They are about to battle to the death. The evil twin gives a speech first, boasting essentially the boast of Milton's Satan, that he hates everything that is good, and likes everything that is not good." So, Earthworm Jim (who is not always the brightest of worms) reasons, "Well, winning is good, and losing is bad, and since you like what is bad and hate what is good, then surely I shall defeat you.) Of course, we know that our hero, Jim, proceeds to dispatch his evil twin in no time flat.
    Last edited by Sitaram; 06-28-2005 at 08:17 PM.

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    Hello Julie

    Here is a link to ebay, I did a search for

    "antique books manuscripts milton"

    John Milton antique books on ebay
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    I like Sitaram's responce. Satan's nature is not black and white.

    Confucius tells us the we must never dismiss the virtues of our enemies or the faults of our friends.

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    The literary definition of hero (I don't know it word for word) is more along the lines of having a fight to fight, to be completely determined in this mission, to be almost invincible but to have a tragic flaw.

    Satan is trying to destroy the Kingdom of God and all good and is completely determined to fight his "eternal war" and get his revenge on God...however, he failed in his great battle because of pride, his great sin.

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