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Paradise Lost Essay, Research Paper
Satan as Human?Fools as Godly
Milton?s Paradise Lost is one of the most unique works from the Renaissance period. Bringing a fresh perspective to the Satan/God conflict that until the time of it?s authorship, had not been represented, that is, the perspective of Satan himself.
Satan is presented as a bit of a fool, reacting more as a human being, which provides a comic element of identity in the rebellion against “Heaven.” However, it suggests the operation of the weak or suggestive side of humans that is not “angelic” (i.e. ?the flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak.?) Humans who are less godly than angels are fools. At the same time, fools who are Godly are Sons of God, who in the Earthly realm of those who would be mini-Satans, or this genre of a demi-god, suffer all the time, whether “Godly” or not. Satan is not an animal, not the serpent of Paradise Lost, rather the serpent was a vessel by which he imposed his will on humanity. He acts through the serpent by possession or suppression. He uses the serpent to acheive his own ends, manipulating Adam and Eve, and thereby striking at God through the creation that he holds most dear: man. A serpent can wrap itself around part of any other object or concept intellectually of smaller to larger size. He is lustful, but sex is not the issue in his enticement. In his own desire not to be alone in the choice he makes, he entices and manipulates others and himself onward in disobedience to God’s Law concerning the abuse of the tree of knowledge, in subtle, indirect ways, so as to avoid detection. This is one of many reasons the Western esoteric tradition stresses personal responsibility. There is no excuse that “the devil made me do it.” We act it, we live it: we own it until we make a different choice. Law does not change for any human.
It is suggested that Satan and his experiences in Paradise Lost, is actually a description of the human process of making choices every day between the right path and the wrong path of knowledge. This is, in other words, Eden every day on Earth, the choice of heaven or hell. The biblical account is an historical allegory of that condition, and this is another direct reversal: truth is told of history, however, the allegory tells much more about the actual spiritual history than the words alone.
When reading Satan’s conversations with Angels, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Michael and Cherubs, a picture of Satan as humanity collective and individual is clear. These spiritual beings follow him around while he tries to gather intellectual knowledge that can be used to manipulate others to join in his world, to bow down to his reign, his power trip. The angels’ insights, i.e., their inspiration, their nature of conscience, constantly badger him, first here, then there. He is repeatedly “abashed” when each time he can find no further counter-argument. But he continues down that path anyway, still insisting there is some way in this material world to be his own god in his own way, and separate from the Law of Heaven as he knows it. He also thinks, “no one else knows my thoughts.” However, Hermetically, he can’t escape his own “offspring.” (”The sins of the parents are delivered upon the sons.”)
Satan, taking on many different forms, is also presented as passive and natural in the nature of the lower hierarchy of animals whose forms he assumes, rather than being arbitrarily or artificially imposing or vicious by nature. He just wants to be kingpin! Being “in charge” means different things to different people. In this image that is made by Milton, is a possible suggestion of the nature of evil by degree and intent, from one horrible extreme to the other. That is, evil has a spectrum of intensity and intent between extremes. It is evil, nonetheless, and it makes generations upon generations of “offspring” until eventually the concept of the thought changes and produces something else instead.
The ideas portrayed in Paradise Lost are reminisce of Anne Rice?s Memnoch the Devil, the portrayl of Satan not as the evil horned creature delighting at the misfortune and pain of others, but rather as a lonely, misunderstood being who deeply believes that he is right. Like anyone who is convinced of the righteousness of his cause, he seeks to convert others to his cause. By giving Satan human qualities, Milton generates understanding toward Satan?s plight, and gives the reader a sense of sympathy for him. A reader is drawn into the story of Satan?s fall from
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