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In Paradise Lost books 9 and 10, Satan is shown to have the qualities of a tragic hero, how far do you agree with this?
The portrayal of Satan is a topic that arouses vast amounts of contrasting discussion, particularly concerning Milton’s intentions of why he created such a charismatic yet devious villain. Many critics have argued that Milton is ‘of the devil’s party without knowing it’, although the reader knows that his alleged intentions were only to ‘justify the ways of God to man’, and that Satan may be presented in such a way in order to depict the methods of God.
A typical tragic hero obviously needs to posses tragic flaws. Just as Shakespeare’s Macbeth was greedy, Milton’s Satan could be given the status of a tragic hero due to his own tragic flaws. Pride is the centre of Satan’s problems, leading to his spiritual fall, and physical fall from heaven to the depths of hell. Shakespearean tragic heroes let their tragic flaws get the better of them, as does Satan, he was an angel in heaven, but his pride wouldn’t let him settle for being just an inhabitant of heaven, he had the be the sole ruler. Satan’s pride acts as a split personality towards his character, and provides almost all of his ‘evil’ attributes. It is pride that forces Satan from heaven to hell, and arguably it is his tragic flaw alone that, alike Macbeth, forces him to do all of his evil deeds such as bring down mankind, and spurs on his immoral motives.
In order for Satan to be awarded to status of a tragic hero, what first needs to be established is whether he was indeed first of all a hero to begin with, before the ‘fall’. This is obvious to the reader because Satan was previously an angel in heaven, and has fallen physically and metaphorically from this preceding stage of life. There are numerous points within book nine and ten, where glimpses of Satan’s former self can be seen. Traditional tragic heroes such as Macbeth commonly take a look at them selves and question their...