Those who come across John Milton’s greatest epic poem
Those who come across John Milton’s greatest epic poem, Paradise Lost, discover the world that Milton takes them to the mind of evil: Satan. There, they come to find that the object of all their hate mostly relies around Satan, who in his fallen state is heroic, ambitious, and attractive. The characterization that Milton has of Satan has, since the release of Paradise Lost, created controversy and much of this controversy revolves around the question: is Satan the hero or villain of Paradise Lost? John Milton shows the growth that Satan’s psyche endures from leaving the world that Lucifer knows and to accept the state that Satan creates as he tries to become equal like God. Milton creates various characteristics that show a resemblance to man, and he gives him emotions that can qualify as both good and evil in the eyes of man. The concept of evil is as old as mankind. Before considering the character of Satan consider looking at reasons why Satan holds such a significant role in Paradise Lost. According to G.A.Wilkes he notes that ” Satan’s way of striking back at God is first to embrace evil, as ‘contrary to his high will’, and beyond this to resist the whole movement of divine Providence as it works to turn evil to good” (7). The question: do Satan’s various characteristics make him a hero, or a villain is undeniably one of the largest questions that remains unsolved. C.S. Lewis, in his A Preface to Paradise Lost, notes that Satan is viewed in two different lenses, “Milton’s Satan is a magnificent character that may bear two senses. It may mean that Milton’s presentation of him is a magnificent poetical achievement which engages the attention and excites the admiration of the reader. Or Milton’s Satan, is or ought to be an object of admiration and sympathy” (Lewis, 95). This thesis aims to show Milton showing various characteristics give Satan the role of a heroic persona. Satan is a complex character to analyze, but he is a skilled individual that uses his knowledge from his past life as Lucifer to continue to perfect his knowledge in manipulating others with his rhetoric. Wilkes also notes that Satan’s goal is that “Satan has again been made instrumental to the design of Providence, even while he believes himself to be subverting its purposes” (41). His character does not solely want revenge from losing his place to the Son of God, he wants to prove to the fallen angels and to God that he can hold the same power as God, which makes him one of the greatest twisted characters Milton has every created.
Paradise Lost is not in chronological order, which is its own double-edged sword. The organization of the events throughout the twelve books jumps back and forth in time and place allowing Milton to show characters, perspectives, and expectations in a form that would often prohibit writers. Harry Blamires highlights that “Milton’s emphatic opening stress on ‘Mans First Disobedience’, followed by his emphases (‘what cause/ Mov’d, 28-9) and reiteration (27-32) all indicate that the chronological priority given to Satan’s activity in Hell is not to be understood” (6). Often throughout Paradise Lost the location changes regularly interchanging from Heaven and Earth. Also, Satan is usually in one setting while describing another and the split settings will act as a factor in Satan’s fall as the text progresses. Based on Sigmund Freud’s principles of Psychoanalysis, he considers emotion and dialogue as influential when understanding the characters history and feelings with regards to a location that can influence a deeper analysis to Satan’s reactions and conversations. Satan in this case, is the only character in Paradise Lost who experiences all three settings, which are Heaven, Earth, and Hell. Considering that God is universal, and Adam only hears about Heaven and Hell, in this case they are both unable to experience all three dimensions from the inside like Satan does. Because Satan is the only one that has experienced all three of these settings, he is able to manipulate his descriptions to those he meets. Satan’s experiences throughout the books contributes to his growth and his devolutionary growth of his psyche.
John Milton’s Satan is a psychologically complex character. He has the qualities which make him a great leader, but even though he is in fact a great leader he shows that his leadership also causes him pain. Satan is undeniably the major figure of Paradise Lost. The poem focuses on his temperament, he shows a psychological profile of someone who has a conflictive personality. Blamires agrees that “the development of that dichotomy in the psychology of the fallen man Milton devotes his skill as a poet and his insights as a prophet” (7). He is a character filled with powerful speeches, and a remarkably impressive way of disguising himself through that language. Again, Blamires observes that “The thought of ‘lost happiness and lasting pain’ (55) is an additional torment for Satan, and he takes in the dismal scene” (7). But the actions Satan takes, however, cause him distress. It is through his soliloquies that Satan can take off his mask and reveal the troubled person he is. For example, when he is in the presence of his fallen angels, he shows his followers that he is a rebellious leader that does not show sorrow for his actions, but when he is alone he allows his thoughts to take over “So spake th’ apostate angel, though in pain, / Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair” (1.125-126). In the presence of his followers he is confident, but alone he shows that he is a miserable individual when he is alone in his thoughts. John Milton in Paradise Lost portrays Satan as a manipulative, vengeful, and a determined complex character. Satan’s experiences with Heaven, Hell, and Earth contributes to the growth of his psyche. A primary way that Milton uses these locations, is through rise and fall of Satan throughout the texts. One example of this form of imagery is between Adam and Eve’s fall and redemption. Satan psychologically manipulates Adam and Eve because they have not experienced the locations that Satan describes. Adam and Eve’s psyche grows because of the temptation of discovery, which makes them a valuable target for Satan to manipulate and seduce to secure the first sin that they will commit.
In Books I and II the poem takes the reader from Hell to Heaven. Paradise Lost opens with Satan and his angels falling into Hell, but not in the center but in a place of complete darkness called Chaos. Blamires begins by stating that “Satan makes his introductory appearance in the text as the ‘infernal Serpent’ (34) who ‘first seduc’d them’ to ‘fowl revolt’ (33), a being infected with ‘guile’, ‘Envy’ and ‘Revenge’, and therefore prepared to deceive ‘The Mother of Mankind’ (36)” (7). Milton creates a Satanic character who is so appealing to the reader that this becomes one of the primary traits that Satan uses to manipulate not only the reader, but also those who he meets. According to Helen Lenahan, she discusses the Classical ideals and Christian morality of one of the most controversial characters Milton has ever created which is Satan, “Milton aims in creating a Satanic character who initially appears so appealing to the Classically-orientated reader” (Lenahan, 103).
From Lucifer to Satan
Individuals change as they grow mentally and physically. This also pertains with growth through experiences that change both the psyche and their function in society. This is clear in Paradise Lost there are role changes that become known throughout the books, but because Milton’s Paradise Lost is not in chronological order there are instances where a reader is unable to make a connection throughout various locations. As Aaron Urbanczyk notes what makes Satan such a marvelous character in Paradise Lost is that “The morphological promotion of Melville’s conman protagonist seems to invert directly the morphological regression of Satan in Paradise Lost, who is systematically transformed by Milton from a noble and mighty epic hero (Book 1) to a groveling serpent (Book 12)” (287). An example is Milton’s use of the name Satan, he uses Satan’s name after the fall, “To mortal men, he with his horrid crew / Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf / Confounded though immortal…” (1, 51-53). Milton introduces Satan in Hell and shows that he has fallen along with his followers. Lucifer on the other hand becomes only mentioned during the Heaven scenes, before and during the rebellion. Satan and Lucifer from a Freudian perspective believed, “that the unconscious plays a major role in what we do, feel, and say, although we are not aware of its presence of operations” (Dobie, 55). The minds between Satan and Lucifer may try to block events but their pasts stay with them even if they do not remember; therefore, the subconscious mind from their earlier experiences will rise to compete with present events.
Another factor to consider is the detail and care Milton gave to Satan. He makes Satan attractive to the reader to realize that seduction is the face of sin. According to C.S. Lewis, he proposes that “Milton’s Satan, is or ought to be an object of admiration and sympathy, conscious or unconscious, on the part of the poet or his readers or both” (Lewis, 94). Satan is the fallen child in the introduction of Book 1 and he becomes disowned by God, which sends him to Hell along with his followers. Because God disowned him, Satan fights this disgrace through the fallen angels that have joined him to share the same fate as him. Urbanczyk observes that “Milton paints Satan as the tragic hero of Paradise Lost, and his transformation into different shapes is in direct proportion to his degradation of character. Satan begins his downward spiral of form and identity the moment he is introduced in the poem” (289). Mentioning Satan in Book 1, begins his faith being made by God now the only thing that is needed is for Satan to begin his diabolical plans by choosing his victims. Therefore, since he is not alone in Hell, it is easier for his psyche to accept his current state. His psyche travels back to times when he had greatness and beauty while he was in Heaven. Satan’s revolt begins because he has a powerful sense of pride, “…what time his pride / Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his host / Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring” (1. 36-38). Pride is Satan’s psychological and physical fall from Heaven. According to C.S. Lewis he notes that through Satan’s pride he creates his own problems in Heaven, he allows jealousy to provoke him “There never had been any war between Satan and God, only between Satan and Michael; but it is possible that he now believes his own propaganda” (97). Another recollection to consider is Satan opposing to the Son receiving the greatest promotion a follower of God could receive. Now the Son will hold a greater position than Satan, and this does not sit well with him knowing that the Son will be highly worshipped instead of him. Satan becomes demoted through the ontological and cosmological level of living beings, which then creates envy in Satan’s psyche. Satan’s psych needs to create pride and envy to gain acceptance from those who follow him.
The psychological state of Satan in the opening of the poem is vital, but Satan’s psyche and pride begin to take a novel approach in Book 9. In Book 9, this is the climax of the epic poem the poem begins with Satan, he has been hiding after God banishes him from the Garden of Eden following the fall of man. This is the highest point of Satan’s activities on the fall of man, but it is not the highest point of his psyche. His first disagreement involves Book 10 Balmires notes that “The hate-packed, spite-packed (‘despightfull’, I) deed done by Satan in Paradise is known in Heaven…The two falls, of angel and men, are seen together in Heaven” (241). Prior to the act committed by Satan, Raphael in Book 7 goes down to Earth to warn Adam and Eve of temptations that could attract them, “In Paradise to Adam or his race / Charged no to touch the interdicted tree, /…So easily obeyed amid the choice” (7.45-46, 48). Satan’s actions can be compared with God is, he has control over everything that he created; therefore, Satan wants to hold the same power that God has. An example of God’s power shown in Heaven is with Satan’s conversation with Uriel, “Thus said, he turned, and Satan bowing low, / As to superior Spirits is wont in Heav’n, / Where honor due and reverence none neglects” (3. 36-8). In Heaven, there are expectations that the Angels must follow as shown with Satan. Lucifer was a participant in the social hierarchies, and he uses these forms of respect to manipulate and win over other angels. Because he bows to show respect to the angel, he is acknowledging his position in the social hierarchies in relation with his own social standing. Satan is quick to pretend that he accepts Uriel to hold a higher standing then him, but this action is enough to hold control over Uriel believing that he is of a higher social standing then him when it is Satan who has the control.
Prior to Satan’s revolt against God, he willingly accepts his position under God and over the other angels. But when God changed the discourse to Father and Son, Lucifer’s position becomes noted. Before God began to make changes, he was satisfied with his current position because his psyche was in harmony with holding a position of power and servitude. It was not until the Son was granted the position that created issues for the social hierarchies in Heaven. This is then where Lucifer’s psyche could no longer adjust to the changes God was making. According to Freud’s concept which he calls it “The Tripartite Psyche”, he explains that the mind is broken down into three parts: the id, the supergo, and the ego. Freud’s explanation of the ego believes that the ego works according to the reality principle, “Its function is to make the id’s energies nondestructive by postponing them or diverting them into socially acceptable actions, sometimes by finding an appropriate time for gratifying them” (Dobie, 57). Satan’s ego weakens, which then enables the ego to create an illusion to exert strength through the creation of false ideas that make Satan’s ego believe that he still holds authority and power. One thing to consider is if the psyche cannot reach a suitable connection with the ego, the result brings new thoughts that will be evoked once the timing is appropriate. An example would involve the idea of Sin. Sin was not created before Satan, it was created from Satan’s mind when his psyche could not find a balance between following God’s teachings, and instead changed into Satan recognizing that his self-worth is far more important than following God. Sin is described as coming out of Satan’s mind, “Out of thy head I sprung: amazement seized / All th’ host of Heav’n; back they recoiled afraid / At first, and called me Sin” (2. 758-760). Sin is also described as being like Satan, “Portentous held me; but familiar grown, / I pleased, and with attractive graces won /… Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing” (2. 761, 763-64). Therefore, there is a possibility that Sin is only a part of Satan that he chooses to show the purpose from where his actions will ensue from. Sin is “thy perfect viewing image” (2. 764), which then shows the same attributes that Satan evokes to the readers as attractive. Lee Erickson notes that “Satan’s first action parallels…the unholy Trinity of Satan, Sin, and Death…and so are designed in part to have the dramatic effect of undercutting any sympathy” (393). Sin becomes created, and death follows, which then begins Satan’s creation of a social hierarchy that will create the illusion that he is equal to God. Lee Erickson notes that “the pagan gods, who have ceased to be worshipped, have been accorded greater significance in Paradise Lost by having been elevated to such signal prominence in Satan’s realm” (385). Heaven has the Holy Trinity, which includes; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hell evokes the same concept with his own version, which includes; Satan, Sin, and Death. Satan can incorporate the same into his world to create an equal power as Gods. Harry Blamires notes that “Death’s sovereignty may look pretty frightening, even tangible, at the ninefold sic gates of Hell. But there are forces against which even those gates shall not prevail” (51). Death can recognize that Satan is the leader who brought together the fallen angels against Gods will. Blamires notes that “often in literature the tables are turned by a sudden discovery of an unexpected relationship” (53), and this relationship is the one that Satan will create with the help of Eve and those who he fools with his rhetoric.
Once the parallels of the Holy Trinity are created, Satan moves on to his next phase that will continue to influence his delusional ego of attempting to seduce others. Satan moving onto his next phase strengthens his psyche, he creates his army of followers by revealing the need of being superior, “Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, / If these magnific sic titles yet remain / …Another nlw hath to himself engrossed” (5. 772-73, 775). In Satan’s speech he is using words like “Thrones” and “Powers” to show that he is far more interested in titles that show that they hold power. Thomas Wheeler notes that “Satan’s role in Paradise Lost is clearly defined: he is the Serpent who tempts Eve and, through her, Adam to commit the Original Sin…Milton, whether intentionally or not, went far beyond the needs of his theme in developing Satan’s character” (99). Satan is using his speech to create a rise of action; therefore, Satan’s ego is having him use his emotions to convince the angels that his discourse is the one to follow. Satan exerts his emotions in his speech “With what may be devised of honors new / Receive him coming to receive from us / Knee-tribute yet unpaid” (5. 780-82), but he is mixing his truths with lies. Because Satan is very well prepared in manipulating his followers, he does create the belief that he is equal to God all because of his ego growing. Thomas Wheeler notes that “By making Satan a person, a rational being who justifies his attacks upon mankind and pities his own fallen state, Milton has envisioned a kind of evil-conscious, purposeful, aware of its own nature, evil with a conscience, evil despairing of rest or joy or victory” (106-107). Satan obtains the same characteristics that man has not yet discovered. For example, Adam who is the “only recognizable human figure that he ever succeeded in portraying” (Wheeler, 76) cannot distinguish between lies, lust, or any other implication of Sin.
Milton’s Satan seeks to accomplish an end that is in reality impossible to achieve. Francis C. Blessington notes that “The narrator in Paradise Lost is one of Milton’s most original contributions to the epic genre. Epic narrators up till Milton had revealed little about themselves” (97). An example of a narrator revealing little about themselves is Homer, he is an epic poet who plays a vital role in writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. The “Homeric Question” continues to ask when, where, and under what conditions were these two-epic works created. The tradition of keeping a mystery ended with Dante using himself as a character in the Divine Comedy ” in the Divine Comedy… the narrator functions on a level with the characters…Milton could not enter paradise or heaven, as Dante could be led through hell, purgatory, and heaven, without clumsily aggrandizing” (Blessington, 97). Satan continues to change his discourse to balance the damages he has acquired from his defeats. To start, he creates a war between him and Heaven because he could not accept the Son being the one to hold a higher power than him. So, banished from Heaven he accepts his fall, but he then creates a plan to destroy man. It is noticeable to see that with every downfall Satan endured, he tried to accept his fate while still wanting revenge. But it is also noticeable to see that Satan’s fall is a battle with accepting that he has failed and God punishes him for his actions, “Both Sin, and Death, and yawning grave at last / Through Chaos hurled, obstruct the mouth of Hell / Forever and seal up his ravenous jaws” (10. 635-637). George F. Butler notes that “while Satan is changed from angel to monster immediately after his fall in numerous medieval and renaissance religious, literary, and artistic works, Milton delays Satan’s metamorphosis to Book 10. Immediately prior to his transformation Satan appears as an sic heroic orator addressing his demonic troops after the successful damnation of humanity (PL 10.460-530)” (148). God punishes him for the temptation and manipulation that he evoked on Adam and Eve and locks Satan away in Hell where he will do no harm to the Earth that he took time to create. Freud’s concept of the ego says, “the ego is the closest of the three parts of the psyche to what we think of as conscious, for it mediates between our inner selves and the outer world. Nevertheless, it is not directly approachable” (Dobie, 57). Lilian R. Furst notes that “his psyche, since his heroic assertion is the egocentric one of his own personalities, far indeed from the hero’s traditional commitment to a cause outside of himself” (56). Satan encounters the inability to realize that his psyche created an illusion of him believing that he was equal to God. Because he is unable to connect these factors, he is unable to reach the final goal, which is self-discovery. Furst also notes that “His overwhelming presence is the expression of that total self-absorption that makes his universe…pivot entirely on his idiosyncrasy ego. In such egocentric self-assertion lies…one of the crucial turning points” (56). He is fueled by wanting to be equal or greater than God that he is never capable of recognizing the multiple changes he made that escalated to him losing a battle with not God, but with himself and this is ultimately Satan’s downfall.
Satan is an individual who has been called several things such as, a hero, a villain, a liar, and creature of many faces. Arnold Stein notes “If Satan is merely an absurd villain, it is because we wish to ground our art upon too narrow a certainty; it is because we prefer the idea, and the confirmation of our certainty, to the more comprehensive, and therefore more daring, exploration of human experience- the submitting of an idea to a dramatic structure. If Satan is merely absurd, then we are not willing, though Milton is, to test evil by good” (221). Satan has always had more than one face to show throughout the progression of the text, but he can maintain this structure when luring the likes of Adam and Eve. Neil D. Grave notes in Book 6 that “Milton presents biblical allusion that associate Satan with traditionally “good” or heroic characters” (179). He can present himself as good, but when it becomes needed for him to show his power against others he shows his evil side. For example, his self-expression is an attribute that shows his boastfulness when he interacts with Abdiel “Than scorned thou didst depart, and to subdue / By force, who reason for their King / Messiah, who by right of merit reigns” (6.40-42). In this particular argument of Satan to Abdiel, he is addressing that God is the self-righteous, which is why he reigns, but Satan boasts that his self-will holds a great power that gives others freedom; however, Satan is not just being boastful, he is an individual who is careful with the words he uses in order to create a reaction. Neil D. Grave notes that “Satan by the ironic contrast between good and bad, believer and unbeliever, obedience and disobedience…These interpretations are contradictory, and the reader must choose between them, which suggest that neither mode is fully satisfactory” (180). Therefore, looking at his boastfulness it becomes as primarily serving the purpose of self-fulfillment, but Satan also cautiously uses boastfulness to inspire his followers. For example, when Satan’s responds to Abdiel’s warnings “O Heav’n! that such resemblance of the Highest / Should yet remain, where faith and realty / Remain not; wherefore should not strength and might” (6.114-116). Abdiel is acknowledging that Satan holds some aspects of celestial beauty, even though he is a rebel he uses his beauty from his fallen state to fool Abdiel. Although Raphael has already told Adam this story to warn him that he needs to be cautious, and not to admire beauty. He later advices Adam over Eve’s beauty “By attributing overmuch to things / Thy cherishing, thy honoring, and thy love, / Not thy subjection: weigh with her thyself” (8.565, 569-570). Satan’s sins have affected not only his appearance but will also allow him to be unrecognizable to other angels “Not to know me argues yourself unknown, / The lowest of your throng; or if ye know, / Why ask ye, and superfluous begin” (4.830-832).
Another example where Satan manipulates the truth for a noble reason is from his speeches in Book 1 of Paradise Lost. Satan is speaking with Beelzebub “All is not lost; the unconquerable will / That glory never shall his wrath or might / Extort from me” (1. 106, 110,111). Satan feels threatened by the Son overpowering him, and because he cannot accept losing, he will become alienated from God and his angels. Katherine R. Norcross notes that “The impotence of Satan in the first part of the poem provides a foil for Christ’s active power to save and judge in the second part” (143). Through the perspective of the fallen angels, they believe that all is lost. Because Satan has such a way with words, he can change Beelzebub’s thoughts by convincing him and manipulating him into believing that they will rise “We may with more successful hope resolve / To wage by force or guile eternal war / Irreconcilable, to our grand foe” (1.120-122). Katherine R. Norcross notes that “his manipulation of elegiac structures that build sympathy through contrast, which sets the poem” (148). Satan once again chooses his words wisely and wants to make his army feel noble. He does this by twisting his words “But see the angry victor hath recalled / His ministers of vengeance and pursuits / Back to the gates of Heav’n” (1.169-171). Satan is lying to Beelzebub because there were not any ministers of vengeance nor were they chased as they fell because they left on their own terms. It is not until Book 7 that the Son chased Satan and his followers out of heaven “His thunder in mid-volley, for he meant / Not to destroy, but root them out of Heav’n: / The overthrown he raised” (7.854-856). Katherine R. Norcross notes that “these might carry sympathetic emotional overtones, but they highlight Satan’s failed attempts to give purpose to his present…Satan’s emotional journey will never have a true destination, and the poem thus highlights the artifice of consolation induced by poetry alone” (158). Satan makes changes to the story in order to show that they were pursued out of Heaven to make his followers believe that they were given the misfortune of being cast away, and to also depict God’s followers as unfair for casting them away.
Satan in his previous speeches does exert his boastfulness, but what stands out the most about Satan is that he is undoubtfully a liar, which according to Milton ” conception of evil, Satan’s fate should evolve in two ways: the good he brings to others and the harm he brings to himself” (Stein, 224). Looking at Satan through the Aristotelian truth “Dissemblers, who play down the truth, seem more stylish in character; they do not seem to say what they do for gain, but to avoid pomposity, and above all they disclaim what is meritorious, as Socrates used to do” (4.7.55). Aristotle sees truthfulness as the middle of boasting and mock-modesty, he sees truth as coming from within oneself. Regarding Satan, he fulfills Aristotle’s definition of truthfulness. Satan lies because the cosmic order of Paradise Lost demands for Satan to lie to piece every issue that rises from his lies, manipulations, and envies. G.A. Wilkes notes that “The tendency of Providence (as Satan had told Beelzebub) is always to bring forth good from evil. As God describes next the provisions made for fallen in his ‘Eternal purpose’, we see his power being exercised” (15). Satan’s virtues and heroism create issues between how God and Satan are viewed. God is seen as good and Satan is seen as the enemy, Satan because of the role he has must stay on the side of evil because of the cosmic order “Man shall not quite be lost, but sav’d who will, / Yet of will in him, but Grace in mee / Freely voutsaf’t; once more I will renew” (3.173-175). God’s insight and power responds to issues that will bring temptation to mankind and equally bring them to their fall, but God remains hopeful that not all of mankind will be lost because through his grace some will be restored. Thomas Kranidas notes that ” it is all carefully calculated to bring God’s message down from the high to the common man, thereby to raise man up…God works through Man to reach Man; he purges and disperses the mists” (33). As for the others, he will talk to them and allow them to choose freely their fate, those who follow God consciously will survive. Now those who choose to not to follow God will never be able to experience his kingdom. Satan will always be the enemy, and he will always be a manipulative liar as Wilkes notes “Satan, for all his moments of Promethean defiance, is seen in this larger perspective as a figure consistently controlled by Providence and made the servant of its purposes” (42). Satan cannot speak truth because truth is good, so because he lacks virtue he cannot be guilty of being viewed as a liar it is in his cosmic realm to lie. Therefore, it is only acceptable to say that regarding the Aristotelian’s meaning of truth with relation to self-expression, then he is successful in being true to himself.
Social conduct is relevant with Satan’s character because as Aristotle presents this sphere it is associated with virtue. According to Aristotle “virtue is concerned with passions and actions, and on voluntary passions and actions praise and blame are bestowed, on those that are involuntary pardon, and sometimes also pity, to distinguish the voluntary and the involuntary is presumably necessary for those who are studying the nature of virtue” (book 3 translated by W.D. Ross) the sphere of friendliness falls under virtue because Satan is someone who is abrupt to flatter. Satan’s flattery becomes present throughout Book 3, he is preparing his plan to tempt man “To Paradise the happy seat of man, / His journey’s end and our beginning woe. / But first he casts to change his proper shape” (3.632-634). Satan takes the shape of the Cherub and speaks to Uriel “Th’ Archangel Uriel, one of the sev’n / Who in God’s presence, nearest to his throne / Stand ready at command” (3.648-650). Throughout their conversation Satan does say uplifting words to Uriel that come across as flattery, but Satan’s flattery shows that his choice of words becomes carefully selected, or else Uriel would notice that he is not who he says he is. Satan’s uplifting words such as, “gloriously bright” (3.655), “supreme decree” (3.659), “his eye” (3.660), and “Brightest Seraph” (3.667). All these phrases that Satan uses to describe Uriel are to flatter him more, and as such to complete his flattery towards Uriel he bows before leaving “he turned, and Satan bowing low, / As to superior Spirits is wont in Heav’n, / Where honor due and reverence none neglects” (3.736-738).
Satan achieves his sphere of conversation because he knows how to speak and act in order to be granted entry to any place that he pleases. Thomas Krandidas notes that “the real interest is the satanic mode. The first rule of language and conduct…is that one’s negatives must be as absolute as the enemy’s positives: war becomes eternal as well as pseudo heroic” (39). Because Satan can achieve his form of conversating, he also perfects his wittiness in the same form that he achieved social conduct. Satan is not just witty, he is wise at not entertaining any character. Satan achieves this by being tactical and moderate when he speaks with Uriel, Adam, and Eve to name a few. Satan understands how to speak to them and what to say to get what he wants. He is also someone who listens very attentively. This is a key to achieving his form of rhetoric because Satan’s primary tactic is the art of listening, as he precisely does in Book 2, by evaluating the viewpoints of his followers and effectively be the one to carry out his plan with the help of the fallen angels. By Satan evaluating his followers he “prevented all reply” (2.467) and makes his followers believe only in him “Towards him they bend / With awful reverence prone; and as a god / Extol him equal to the Highest in Heav’n” (2.477-479) and celebrate “Thus they their doubtful consultations dark / Ended rejoicing in their matchless chief” (2.486-487). Satan’s various forms of twisting and manipulating his followers “O shame to men! Devil with devil damned / Firm concord holds, men only disagree / That day and night for his destruction awaits” (2.496-97, 505). Therefore, it can be concluded that Satan is witty, but not in the same reason that he is able to carefully entertain others, but that he is able to carefully please them with his carefully selected words.
Once Satan has fallen from his Heavenly position as Lucifer, his psychological and physical form have changed. In book 3, it shows Satan changing into a cherub, “And now a striping Cherub he appears, / Not of the prime, yet such as in his face / Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb” (3.636-638). He takes this form of a Cherub to fool Uriel, an angel of heaven. Satan’s external form reflects the inner reality, which means that he cannot hide who he is. For example, good spirits show beautiful reflections of their inner reality, while the bodies that hold evil demons like Satan become deformed. John Peter notes that “The poets aim is obviously to play on our irresolution, to hold us in suspense, and he is wonderfully successful. The equivocality of Satan’s appearance, speech, and conduct is partly accounted for by the fact that his identity is in a state of transition” (37). Satan becomes forced to accept his new appearance and then adapt it to fulfill his mission. Because Satan is the leader of the revolt, he can no longer keep his formal self-visible. If Satan were to appear at Paradise with his present look, he would undoubtedly become recognized as the leader of the revolt, which will stop his mission if recognized. Therefore, he has no other choice but to take the form of the Cherub. Satan is very persuasive and Uriel notices this, “Fair angel, thy desire which tends to know / The works of God, thereby to glorify / The great Work-Master, leads to no excess” (3.694-696). Before Satan gets to this point, his conversations have become limited when talking with his followers, but even when their conversations are limited Satan is still able to easily manipulate his followers. Because Satan was able to prove to himself that he is capable of manipulating one of God’s Archangels, “To visit oft this new creation round; / Unspeakable desire to see, and know / All these his wonderous works” (3.661-663). Satan claims to have come down from Heaven because he is curious of the new world God created and wishes to observe man as well, “On whom the great Creator hath bestowed / Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured” (3.672-674). Satan speaks so well that he fools Uriel, he believes that Satan is a young angel curious of the great creations God has made. One of Satan’s greatest strengths is the hypocrisy of his voice. Milton’s narrator informs the reader of what his voice and form is filled with, “For neither man nor angel can discern / Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks / Invisible, except to God alone” (3.682-684). This form of Hypocrisy can manipulate both the pure and fallen. Satan is unable to understand his own hypocrisy because he tries to justify why his manipulation is a necessary means to end man and he strongly believes he can achieve this. John Peter notes that “His environment is changing: we must expect the impression he makes to change with it. That is the implication of the phrase…’In the dun Air sublime’ (3.72)” (50-51). Milton uses this encounter between Uriel and Satan to prepare readers to accept the fall of man. Satan has achieved in manipulating the Archangel Uriel into believing that he is an angel interested in the creation of God’s world. Satan can take a new form and use his words to manipulate and deceive someone like Uriel. Milton makes it easier to understand that an angel like Uriel was easily manipulated; therefore, making man vulnerable will be another easy tactic that Satan can use on man.
Now looking at the original sin of Satan, the disobedience of Man cannot become created from Mans mind; Satan introduces it. The reason behind Satan’s seduction for God’s creation is not because of he wanted revenge. John Peter notes that “the egotism with which he relates all things to himself (iv.508), the psychopathic detachment which provides him with his own false version of the War in Heaven (iv. 926-9), and the self-regard that admires Sin and Death’s boldness or strength because he can equate it with his own (x. 389-91, 404-5)” (51). From the first three books, Satan was an envious individual over Man, but he overlooks this envy of Man being his motive for revenge. Satan does indeed express hate and jealousy when referring to Man, but when he first encounters the new forms he is moved by the beauty and innocence of the pair. Satan confesses that he is intrigued by the pair, “To you whom I could pity thus forlorn / Though I unpitied: league with you I seek, / And mutual amity so strait, so close” (4.374-376). Satan’s psyche takes another shift, and his motives take a new direction. He now feels the need for companionship in his own world rather than wanting to focus on rivaling against God, “Thank him who put me loath to this revenge / On you who wrong me not for him who wronged. /…To do what else though damned I should abhor” (4. 386-387, 392). Satan seems to be in denial about his new perceived existence. God can be perceived to depict the role of a parent who is overseeing Satan, Adam, and Eve through a psychological context. For example, Satan is declaring that God has left him no other choice but to destroy them. Although Satan will not physically kill them, he will doom them into living a mortal and sinful life, which then will end in their deaths. A.J.A Waldock in A Critique of Paradise Lost Satan notes that “he is not a changed Satan, He is a new Satan. Worst of all, he is a Satan from whom all real interest has drained away” (Peter 55). He is a character that holds an abundance amount of knowledge and experience that is entirely unknown to Man, this is in turn makes Adam and Eve easier targets. The state of mind that Adam and Eve hold is still in a state of purity, meaning that they can easily become manipulated into believing anything that comes from Satan’s talks. Satan is an individual who is mature and has developed a strong psyche. In book 9 Satan is becoming more hostile towards Man, “Of Heav’n, this man of clay, son of despite, / Whom us the more to spite his Maker raised / From dust; spite then with spite is best repaid” (9.176-178). He is ending his soliloquy with the pledge he made with Beelzebub in book 2, “To mingle and involve, done all to spite / The great Creator? But their spite still serves / His glory to augment. The bold design” (2.384-386). In Book 4, there is also a change in Satan’s voice from his previous soliloquy, “I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere; / Till pride and worse ambition threw me down / Warring in Heav’n’s matchless King:” (4.39-41). In this soliloquy, Satan is questioning his own thoughts and reason for why he is wanting revenge, “And understood not that a grateful mind / By owing owes not, but still pays, at once / Indebted and discharged; what burden then?” (4.55-58). Satan is beginning to understand that he owes God a debt that can never be paid, He created him and gave him life. He is also understanding that being grateful and understanding the importance of his debt, he becomes freed from his debt. Yet, Satan continues to hate all that makes up God. Satan admits to himself that he can never enjoy being happy, even when he is sent to Hell. Therefore, because he cannot feel happiness, then he can take the satisfaction through the pain he creates among others. Therefore, not only has man become Satan’s target, but because they lack in understanding the mind of Satan they are an easy target for him to manipulate.
As Satan’s form changes, so does his approach in seducing others while still supporting his own fallacy. To begin with, Satan reveals being a beautiful angel, “In shape and gesture proudly eminent / Stood like a tow’r; his form had yet not lost / All her original brightness” (1.590-592). Satan’s beauty remains even when he experiences these changes, he was once a celestial angel created by God, but he becomes a failed creation once he challenges Him. Although Satan has already fallen in the introduction of the poem, Milton presents Satan as someone who is easily able to depict various disguises and is able to create deception that enables those he manipulates, which in turn creates a self-deception in Satan’s psyche. As Satan enters Paradise, he uses animals as his disguises to avoid detection, and he disguises himself as a cormorant, a lion, a tiger, and a toad. Looking at the patterns that these animals form it is easy to decipher that as he changes disguises he becomes a smaller and weaker animal. Another aspect to take into account is he is getting closer to the ground, which is when he finally choses to be the serpent, “From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake, / Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark, / As from his wit and native subtlety” (9.91-93). Satan calling the Snake “wily” is the reason he chooses this specific animal and not the others. According to Roland Mushat Frye, he is describing a 16th century painting of the serpent “a very graceful serpent, standing erect on his tail coils, undulating as in Milton, and with his mouth open in speech as ‘of old some orator renowned / In Athens or free Rome'” (9.670-1). Milton chose the snake because the snake is naturally wise and would be a better disguise for Satan to fool Adam and Eve. Another aspect to consider is Satan’s psyche is retreating from his earlier defeats and therefore intuitively he is looking for an animal that can structure itself effectively and use his essential evil qualities: “guileful” (9.567), “impassioned” (9.678), and “fraudulent” (9.531). The serpent that is shown in Book 9 holds a much greater significance then being merely just a snake. This serpent is the worst kind of evil: it is the tempter of Man that will successfully tempt Eve to be disobedient and commit sin. Milton describes the serpent as a “monstrous serpent” (10.514), which can be considered a dragon, “A monstrous serpent on his belly prone, / Reluctant, but in vain, a greater power / Now ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned” (10. 514-516). The book of Revelations mentions a great dragon cast away along with his followers, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (12:9). This biblical passage brings in a relation to his act in Eden. Therefore, in Book 10 the cause becomes known and his punishment coincides with his crime, “According to his doom: he would have spoke, / But hiss for hiss returned with forked tongue / To forked tongue, for now were all transformed” (10. 517-519). The sentence recalls the transgression in Book 9 where the serpent finds Eve alone and begins to use his acts of evil to lure her into sinning. Milton uses nature and the timing of Satan to show his changes concern with his primary action in the poem, which is the temptation of Eve.
Throughout the poem there are instances when God looks down on man and sees their interactions, but because this is the creators work his views seem less reliable because he is viewing his own work. But for Satan, he cannot admit the greatness of anyone else but himself and this in turn increases the validity of the description of Man being perfect. Satan’s envy towards man is depicted in his soliloquy, “Creatures of other mold, earth-born perhaps / Not Spirits, yet to heav’nly Spirits bright / Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue” (4.360-362). It is here that Satan is acknowledging his future victims and sees that they are a creation of beauty because of the divine image given to them by God. Milton is careful with Satan’s rhetoric, “With wonder, and could love, so lively shines / In them divine resemblance and such grace / The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured” (4. 363-365). Satan recollects the high status he had when he was Lucifer and he tries to hide it by being bitter, but he is also able to accept his new current greatness by embracing his role as the ruler of great evil. At the beginning of his soliloquy he is feeling anguished because of this new rivalry that has been created because of Adam and Eve, “O Hell! What do mine eyes with grief behold, / Into our room of bliss thus high advanced” (4.358-359). Man does not exist in hell, so there is a new role that takes whole of Satan and that is the reminder that happiness he has is nothing more than a trick to avoid accepting the fallen state. Consider Satan’s comparison between the Spirits of heaven and the role of man, these demonstrate Satan’s celestial knowledge and his ability to still see purity and good even when he has taken the new role of Satan. In Satan’s soliloquy, he mentions “little inferior” and “divine resemblance”, he is showing that he is inspiring Man to be close to the celestial beings. Another aspect to consider is whether he chooses to hold back in placing them close to the same level that he is in, “Accept your Maker’s work; he gave it me, / Which I as freely give; Hell shall unfold, / To entertain you two, her widest gates” (4.380-382). Satan does not want them to hold a greater status then him, therefore, he keeps them at a level that will allow him to compete against them. He is subconsciously admitting that because he is unable to compete with God, he needs someone who he can easily manipulate and that in turn is God’s creations. The “grace” that Satan addresses was given to Adam and Eve by their Creator, and this is a claim that Satan believes that they hold the characteristics of the former angel. Satan is no longer a celestial being, and even though he tries to regain that recognition, he does not hold any similar attributes that the creator gave to Man. Man has the gift of grace and this gift will never be given to Satan and his fallen angels. Satan is stuck in a state of delusion that enables him to bring others into his circle of damnation in order to maintain his psychological state. Between his followers and his plan to create damnation for Mankind, he is trying to keep those who he is manipulating to remain at the same level as him to be able to maintain control. Even if his control does not compare to the control that God has, he merely wants to hold some form of power against Him.
The fall of mankind is not immediate, but rather it starts with Eve being the one who makes the change happen to mankind. Milton’s Adam and Eve are the prime examples of free will in Paradise, but he allows his mind to become influenced and developed from the perspective of a mind that has not become compromised with the acts of evil. Satan’s way of speaking manipulates Eve to fall for the temptation due to her inexperience with manipulations like Satan’s and because she easily became manipulated, and Adam makes a conscious choice because he has a love and connection with Eve. Adam’s fall is a chivalrous act. Once Adam has become aware of Eve’s choice, he makes his decision in joining her, even though he will be banned from paradise he is aware of the choice he has made and accepts it. The relationship that Adam and Eve have developed comes to a point where they complete each other’s existence in Paradise. Adam has felt what it is like to be alone, “All rational delight, wherein the brute / Cannot be human consort; they rejoice / Each with their kind, lion with lioness” (8.391-393). The sense of being alone is not a reason the mind flawed or even became a weak psyche, but the mind is developing, recognizing, and using its surroundings to react. Adam sees the animals with their respected mates and sees that his only form of companionship is with God. But his companionship is not in a place that he could visit the only way was through conversation. Creating Eve is an example of a void that Adam could not understand.
Because Eve had not experienced the sense of void that Adam felt, and she is unable to understand what is at stake. Satan notices this and uses this as his opportunity to enable his plan. Satan does target Adam, but he does so by luring him through Eve, which is when he creates a void through her psyche that through her void he could fill with seduction and lies. In Book 9, Eve is not a sinner when she is conversing with Satan as she follows him to the forbidden tree. Milton shows the dangers that are about to begin, “So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned; / Into the heart of Eve his words made way, / Though at the voice much marveling” (9.549-551). It is here that Eve begins to surrender her mind to Satan’s rhetoric, “Though at the voice much marveling; at length / Not unamazed she thus in answer spake. / “What may this mean? Language of man pronounced” (9.551-553). Satan can make Eve believe that she second best through his careful choice of rhetoric.
Milton uses Satan’s series of roles to activate a voice that reveals the power of his manipulative rhetoric and trying to hide his true motivation from himself. Milton prepares his audience early in the poem by naming Satan, he is alerting the audience that there is an enemy that is continually succeeding through disguises. Therefore, the reader can listen to Satan’s seductive speech without falling victim like the others. In the case of Adam and Eve they are not as lucky. Man had seen angels and had an idea of what God looked like, but Man had not yet fallen therefore they do not have knowledge of what pain is or being able to recognize evil. They were although warned by Raphael, but he was unable to recognize Satan through his disguises as well. Much throughout the epic poem Satan tries to reach greatness by defeating others, he does so by wanting to trust his own virtues and relying on his own strength and wisdom that he has accumulated as the epic continues. However, since he took another form to successfully seduce Adam and Eve, he is admitting that his current state is too evil and hideous to lure the couple. Therefore, he must take another form to carry out his goals of making Man fall. Now even though Eve does eat the forbidden fruit, Satan’s psyche cannot accept this as a victory for him because this took place while he stays disguised as the serpent.
Satan’s appearance can seduce these celestial creatures through knowledge that has not been seen in heaven and is unable to be taught in hell. Satan has a unique psyche and he is the only character that is compared to God because he is the only character that is close to sharing the same form of awareness that God has. Milton’s God has knowledge of awareness, but Satan is the only character that is exposed to the three worlds of Paradise Lost. Satan has the celestial knowledge from being Lucifer, which in turn allows him to deceive the angels that guard the Garden of Eden. He is also the only character who is able to travel from Heaven and into Earth, and through his early speeches to his followers he shows awareness that the others lack. Satan is able to reign in Hell because he discovers emotions and thoughts that he never was able to experience when he was Lucifer. Because he makes these connections, his psyche is able to realize that he must seduce Man, and he knows that he will be able to succeed because he is ahead of everyone else. Satan does experience success and failure through his successful plan. He is able to seduce man, but he creates a change that will affect him physically and psychologically. Milton depicts Satan slowly deteriorating in many different stages: the war with Heaven, the loss of his position in Heaven, and finally his transformations that get him in the Garden but leave him remaining a serpent at the end of his plot against Man and God. Milton’s interpretation of Satan is that Hell does not limit Satan, his fall is due to his own psyche being too powerful for him to handle, which causes his own downfall.
Self-satisfaction is not achieved for the Milton reader. The first book of Paradise Lost begins with powerful and persuasive speeches from the fallen. Within the next eleven books there is a psychoanalytical voyage through time that goes back to the beginning of Book 1 and the discovery of what evokes the reaction of the fallen nature that they are exposed to in the opening. The way that Milton writes keeps the audience analyzing, comparing, and recalling the events that occur throughout the epic poem. Milton is able to provide enough context to distinguish and connect the mentality that Satan has. And even though he is uses the technique of not presenting the events in chronological order, he still holds a high standard when he presents important events that will influence the scenes as the epic continues. The structure of Paradise Lost focuses on disorder versus order and imperfection versus perfection, which then leads to faith. Satan slowly reaches his end because he is wanting to be free and wants to be greater than God. Satan would of reached his true freedom if he would have acknowledged that freedom is found by obeying God’s will without questioning it. Because Satan cannot fathom having to obey God, he chooses to act alone to achieve his freedom and he does but ultimately pays the price for wanting to be greater than God. In the beginning he is unable to accept that God has created the Son, who will take the position he thought he deserved. Satan is unable to separate himself from God until his psyche must choose for him. Therefore, when he finally reaches his fall, he has gained his separation as he presents himself with the idea that he can seduce man to defeat God.
The positions of freedom that are gained between Satan, Adam, and Eve are all done so by the choices that each of the characters makes as the epic progresses. Every event that occurs is through their decisions that shape this epic; Satan choose to rebel against God, Eve chooses to disobey God by eating from the forbidden tree, and Adam chooses to follow Eve because he cannot leave someone whom he loves and has a true connection with. Every character understands that there are consequences because of their chosen actions, but they are unable to understand just how serious their choices impose to the rest of Heaven, Hell, and Earth. God knows everything that is about to unfold, but he allows man and angel to have free will. The choices they make do no effect the chain of events because they have been predetermined, Satan believes that freedom is attained by being free from someone else’s will and to follow their own free will but that is not the case. Therefore, the fall is necessary to show freedom through different settings. Milton has a difficult time being able to describe a location that can come from someone who has not fallen, therefore, readers cannot understand the state of mind of Satan without having those events that show the before and after. The fall of state is done to give readers the comparison they will need for the events that will be unfolding. Satan thinks that freedom is only granted through power. His voice does not cater to those who are oppressed, nor does it grant others to reach freedom he allows those he tempted be doomed to eternal sin and live a life of oppression. Satan’s way of speaking is full of assert and empowers his fallen angels to listen to him, also the power of his psyche is able to manipulate his environment to benefit him, “A mind not to be changed by place or time. / The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n” (1.253-255). His voice of assertiveness is one of his strongest attributes that distinguishes him from other angels, he makes his own identity that allows him to be different from God. Even though Satan does go through a grand defeat, which cannot be changed, he does show that even though he has been defeated he can rise from this defeat and be victorious, he does so in his first speech in Book 1 where he is conversing with the fallen angels. Because he has such a great rhetoric, he is able to give Hell a better look than Heaven and he seemingly is proud to be in a land that allows him to rule and power from the likes of God. In Book 1 Satan says, “To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: / Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n” (1.262-263) he is revealing that power is better to use than serving for no recognition. His idea that reigning is better in Hell shows that his psyche is ready to manipulate his new home.