After being “Hurled headlong flaming from th”ethereal sky with hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition” L, 45-47, Satan, along with his cohorts, now lies chained to the fiery lakes of hell, and thus begins their struggle for revenge. As exemplified by that passage, Milton is very detailed in his depiction of Hell and Satan, and due to the length of Paradise Lost, he allows himself to use Epic similes in which he uses comparative descriptions to portray Satan.
Milton describes Satan in four different aspects; appearance, emotions, character and his environment and in some cases the contradiction of two aspects, such as his emotions and actions, gives us a more positive and likable Satan. However, from Milton”s first reference to Satan, which appears in the lines 34-15, we already get a bad image of the latter; “Th”infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile stirred up with envy, deceived the mother of Mankind ”.Order now
The words “infernal” and “serpent” portray Satan as an infinite being of evil. Serpents, although still snakes is more of a derogatory means of referring to the reptiles, who are usually associated with evil and cunningness, whilst snakes are seen more as being tricky and sneaky. Whether he chose to act on these characteristics is confirmed in the lines “deceived the mother of Mankind ” and “with ambitious aim against the throne and monarchy of God raised impious war in heaven”.
Not only is he described as a serpent, but he acts on its definition; filled with hate and envy for mankind”s happiness he betrays Eve”s “mother of Mankind” trust resulting in both Adam and Eve being thrown out of Paradise, through which he also gets his revenge against God for defeating him and his rebellion. The fact that he is the one who brought about the destruction of mankind”s bliss, the loss of paradise and a war against god, depicts him as a destructive, evil and hate filled creature.
Nevertheless Milton does compliment, whether intentionally or not, Satan”s already fruitless image by using such words as “proud” and “bold” when describing Satan”s actions. The significance of such terms when describing his actions is illustrated when compared to Milton”s explanation of Satan”s feelings. Although, like Adam and Eve, the loss of paradise suffered by Satan “Torments him ” he still projects an image of a strong leader when he speaks, by trying to make light of their situation. He claims that the only reason why God was victorious was because of “His utmost power” being superior to theirs.
He even tries to make the advantage of their defeat theirs; “Since through experience of this great event in arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, We may with more successful hope resolve to wage by force or guile eternal war”. This, however, can be looked at in two different views; is Satan just a bitter loser being stubborn when it comes to admitting his failures, or is he the defeated hero, vowing to fight on no matter the odds? Physically, Satan is described as a colossal angel with huge powers; “Upright he rears from off the poll his mighty stature; on each hand the flames driven backward slope their pointing spires”.
Milton uses an epic simile to describe his physical appearance which spans over 24 lines. He uses different Greek figures such as “Titanian”, “Briarios” and “Typhon” to compare with Satan”s strength, just to give us an idea of his gigantic force. His size is compared to that of “Leviathan”, an enormous Biblical sea-monster to which he also attaches the fairy tale of a monster as big as an island “Deeming some island”, which deceives sailors into mooring to its hide “ seamen With fixed anchor in his scaly rind Moors by his side under the lea” before swimming away with them “Invests the sea, and wished morn delays”.
Not only does Milton use a whale to describe his sheer size, but he also links it with a story of a one, which matches his wickedness. It is also important to look at the way he is addressed to by others, i. e. Beelzebub. The whole introduction of his speech, about 6 lines, is just flattery towards Satan, such as the line; “O Prince, O chief of many throned powers” giving us the impression that he is someone that people either look up to and respect, or fear. Satan”s surroundings are also linked to his own character.
The use of the words “darkness” and “No light” are not only appropriate when describing hell, but also when referring to Satan, as he is often associated with the night. When people think of darkness they also very often think of misery, despair and loss, which is exactly what Satan plans to impose upon mankind. Although, from his description, Satan seems like a gigantic, evil, hate-filled monster that”s proud of what it does, there is a claim that people tend to be more attracted to Satan because he”s more interesting than God, who”s only referred to now and then, which I fully agree with.
In Paradise Lost, God is hardly mentioned, and only referred to using words such as “Justice” and “High” which makes him seem as a perfect being that nobody can match, or live up to. Satan on the other hand has more humanly qualities, he feels pain, and is bitter at his loss, but seems like a more charismatic leader, or a stubborn loser. One feels more of a connection to Satan because everybody has been in his situation in some way or another, during which we”ve been too stubborn to admit to our mistakes, or have tried to make light of a situation. The complexity of his emotions and actions makes him more human, and in turn more likable.