Milton was a boy, when he had a desire to write a great lyric— great in theme, in style, and in success. Paradise Lost is the Epic, he fulfills his latent desire. Sublimity is the keynote of ‘Paradise lost’ that based upon Milton’s deep sense of religion and moral earnestness!

Satan appears to be an indomitable fighter against the autocracy of God. Milton refers Satan, ‘the infernal serpent‘ (in line 34, Book-I) and it is he who was responsible for deceiving the ‘mother of mankind'(Eve). But Milton makes Satan the hero in his epic to ‘Justify the ways of God’. After Raleigh, Milton lavished all his power, skill, and sympathy on the splendid figure of Satan.

In the beginning Satan is presented as an anti-hero. The etymological meaning of Satan, He is a plotter! The villain-heroes of Marlowe and Shakespeare, Milton’s Satan is ambitious, revengeful, deceitful, cunning and melancholic. He has the ultimate power, merit and capacity to lead the fallen angels. He is immortal and resolves to carry on the eternal war against God! He continues the war plotting the ruin of Adam and Eve!

Milton's Paradise Lost Illustration © Vikram Roy 2012.

In the Book One, Satan appears to be heroic because of some of his speeches which are meant to inspire his companions. Satan’s opening speech to Beelzebub is a magnificent set-piece. They are thrown from a great height, from Heaven to Hell but he did not repent or change. Satan is the master of delusion! His ringing speech, “better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven” is melodramatic! His rousing speech to his followers is profoundly ironical!

Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen.”

Even the followers are roused he fabricates a warlike speech, full of contradictions and absurdities if closely examined! Actually it was a public speech ending with an appeal to continue the conflict. Thus there is a deep irony in the presentation of Satan in Book One.

His speeches sound heroic but irony underlies the rhetoric. He makes evil his chief principle in life! He proposed to oppose God by ‘fraud and guile‘! He would invade the new world (created by God) and betrayed the innocence of Adam and Eve!

Milton has endowed Satan with the greatest passion, the passion of pity

Cruel his eye, but cast

Sings of remorse and passion

To behold the fellows of his crime ……..”

Satan comes to see the newly created pair, he strikes with admiration for the grace and dignity! It was the political aim that he has to take cunning by a searching mental conflict

Which way shall I fly-infinite wrath and infinite despair?”

Thus Milton Presented Satan as a mixed character. Satan did things to win fame, honour and love of his followers. He dislikes God but he don’t dislikes the good! Even he is not two-faced as furious as Iago (a fictional double-crossing character in Shakespeare’s Othello). Satan is over ambitious! He is not worthy to be a hero of the epic. He falls from heaven and he gradually makes evil his principle in life!

Epic features are prominent in Book One. Invocation to Heavenly Muse is conformity to epic convention. In prologue Milton gives his Muse a classic name Urania (Greek, the Muse of astronomy). He did not address one of the Nine Muses, having already been used by Greek or Roman poets. He does not feel the Muses of classical poetry. Thus he asks Urania to lead him higher than the Aonian Mount, since the subject of the epic is higher than others!

The prologue states the subject ‘man’s first disobedience’… notice, the emphasis is upon ‘man’ not on Satan! Satan is certainly not the hero. Satan represents a rejection of the conventional concept and Milton presents the grandeur of evil!

The speeches of Satan are magnificent and impressive too. He is proud, revengeful, deceitful, and cunning! He is being like a Tower or the Sun! Overall his impression is of a great leader. Passion, energy, politics, courage and speeches sweep away his followers. He swallows an indomitable courage and unflinching will…

“All is not lost? The unconquerable will

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield

And what is else not to be overcome?”

The epic similes serve the purpose of illustration as well as decoration! I find many similes of this kind. Milton compares fallen angels to the thick autumn leaves, “strow the brooks in Vallambrosa”! In comparing Satan to the sea-beast Leviathan (the proverbial old story of sailors mistaking a whale for an island). Sailors deluded by Leviathan as Eve deluded by Satan! In these similes Milton goes beyond his point of comparison and gives a vivid vision of things that may not be connected with the main story. The style is grand! He adopts Latin construction and Latin idioms. He uses Latin words with their Latin meanings that feel me an alien strangeness!

Thanks!

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About VIKRAM ROY

Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

24 responses »

  1. Paula says:

    Satan is like a leader with bi-polar disorder. So torn! Great piece, Vikram.

  2. Katrina says:

    I have read Paradise Lost, you’ve done a wonderful job of reviewing it here.

  3. granbee says:

    Vikram, I come away from your posts so very learned! I love the way you celebrate the Latin borrowings in this work of Milton’s. These lines especially jumped out at me, for I feel they apply only too well to the current election cycle in the U.S.:

    “Satan comes to see the newly created pair, he strikes with admiration for the grace and dignity! It was the political aim that he has to take cunning by a searching mental conflict

    “Which way shall I fly-infinite wrath and infinite despair?”

    It seems to me many a campaign manager of many a politician performs in exactly this manner. Thanks so much for bringing this most timely message to us today.

  4. rasberry_blush says:

    I like the way you´ve reviewed the book. I haven´t read the book but I enjoyed reading this piece. Personally, I´m not a fan of such themes though.

  5. Your illustration is beautiful Vikram (:

  6. Lottie Nevin says:

    Great piece of writing Vikram – big respect to you. Your illustration is beautiful.

  7. Your view on the subject is interesting the least I can say. I learned a few interesting facts and ideas. The picture is lovely. Thanks for sharing with all. 🙂

  8. inkbluesky says:

    The mixed media collage is wonderful, as well as the post of course.

  9. Wow! Love your adaptation!!!

  10. Wonderful post, Vikram.

  11. zari says:

    Deep. Thought-provoking. Enthralling.

    You are moving me to read this book. Such a classic! The temperance of Milton’s mind makes the subject matter vivid and colourful.

    The battle between good and evil is incessant but the truth is that God is not fighting. Satan is the embodiment of the diseased self who is on a rampage with righteousness.

    I am going to find this book on Audible and feast on the nuggets that sit in the rough story.

    Thanks.

  12. cshredsalot says:

    Reblogged this on CoryC.ME and commented:
    Speaking of ‘Paradise Lost’ Cradle of Filth did a concept album based on it called (Damnation and a Day). If you like metal as well as paradise lost I highly recommend it.

  13. cshredsalot says:

    Speaking of paradise lost check out cradle of filth’s concept album Damnation and a Day, it tells the story. Epic album!!!!

  14. Indra says:

    I like the image you put there! and your thoughts over this book astound me!
    I believe that this would help me later with my studies, since I will also dig literatures later on.

    this is GREAT!

  15. Your choice of subjects always stuns me (in a good way).
    Your images are powerful and beautiful.
    Thank you!

  16. Do you speak (or are you able to read) Latin? This seems like a capable review.

  17. mswillz says:

    Nice. I haven’t read the book, but my interests are peaked. Great images.

  18. You had clicked the like button on one of my posts, in return decided to check out your blog page. To my surprise found myself captivated by your interests. I will be back from time to time. I enjoyed the adaptation to the book.. Will be checking it out from the Library soon.. Thanks..

  19. jmro98 says:

    Hello, one of my ‘fan’ Mike Reverb, mentionned me in his post ‘Versatile Blog Award’ , from what I do understand it is a nice way to bring bloggers to discover new sites…unfortunately no big checks are coming with it…:)), but on the bright side, no threats either, like something terrible will happen if you don’t follow up…))), because there is a few things it is suggested to do…., like mentionning seven things about you that are unknowned to your blog’s reader, and mentionning about 15 blogs that you like by putting their addresses, I took the liberty of adding your’s to mine, hope you don’t mind…., to know more about this please go to http://jmrart.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Salutations!

  20. QueridaJ says:

    One of my favourite works. Great detailed review =)

  21. This epic is indeed remarkable. It rewards the effort of its reading, which, in my view, is best undertaken slowly, even over several years. Satan pulls one along – even here.

  22. […] “Paradise Lost – Book One” A Study in Danger! (vikramroyblog.wordpress.com) […]

  23. Sharmishtha says:

    you certainly are a thorough reader.

  24. SwittersB says:

    I read Milton because my high school English teacher, Orpha Hudson (my best teacher ever) was trying to expand our minds. Of course, I had no sense of self, literature or the meanings of life. I surely did not come away understanding Milton. Thank you for offering explanations and visions.

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