Satan?s Heroic Aspects
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines hero as the principal male personage, usually of noble character in a poem, story, drama, or the like regarded as a model. Milton’s Paradise Lost presents the reader with characters that could be considered models as heroes. Satan, or Lucifer, qualifies for this distinction.
In Paradise Lost, Satan, God’s favorite, is cast out of heaven. Lucifer had to be outstanding at one point in time in order to share in God’s grace. Only Lucifer’s choice, in line 39 “To set himself in glory above his peers,” committed him to a fall from grace. Satan must have possessed character attributes fit for a king to be held in such high esteem by God. Only through pride and self-conceit did Lucifer earn God’s wrath. For example, in line 84, Beelzebub says,
“If thou beest he… but O how fallen! how changed
From him, who in the happy realms of light
Clothed with transcendent brightness didst outshine
Myriads though bright–.”
The key here is “how changed,” denotes both “good” and “bad” traits with emphasis on “good” at one time.
Satan displays how easy it is to be “good” and receive God’s grace, thus denoting Satan’s choice in trying to capture God. It is difficult to look upon Satan as “good” but by Satan’s choosing to defy God and his kingdom, it implies that Satan does indeed have a “good” side to his character and the aspect of choice, whether good or bad, is irrelevant to the differing sides of Satan’s character. Only the absence of choice would make someone inherently good or bad.