Discuss and Analyse the character of Satan in Paradise Lost, the fallen angel
In the words of S.T Coleridge: "The character of Satan is pride and sensual indulgence, finding in self the sole of motive action...". Satan, a towering but negative character, is one of the most dynamic and controversial characters in English literature. He represents the strength and scope of evil and its impact on the lives of humankind. Satan is the most criticized as well as the most idealized personality when it comes to determination and courage in the face of difficult times. He begins like a hero while ends with the depiction of a horrifyingly corrupt and mean character. He possesses awful virtues; however, they are used in a blasphemous way by negating the will of God, the Creator. Satan's mighty physique in hell is described:
"With Head up-lift above the wave, and Eyes
That sparkling blaz'd, his other Parts besides
Prone on the Flood, extended long and large
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the Fables name of monstrous size".
Satan appears on the scene in Book I as a strong character where he lay floating in the "dungeon horrible" after his defeat at the hands of God. He is of huge stature and appears to be very courageous as well as determined. Here we find his personality fighting for the cause of liberty and freedom. He speaks to his assistant Beelzebub and inspires others to continue the war against the forces of good that are supported by God:
"What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will..."
He is impressive, though vain and blasphemous, and appeals the readers to sympathize his current state. He is like a general commanding an army. He is ready to wage another war to prove his "will" which he deems is not conquerable. This poses him like a hero which, indeed, he is not.
Satan is full of hatred for human beings; he wishes to avenge God. He has been utterly defeated and "hurled headlong" into the hell but Satan is so vain that he does not want to admit his defeat. He wants to fight on. He rather has an intention of "study of revenge" and he brings with him "immortal hate". He boasts of "courage never to submit or yield" before the Creator. In his defiance of God, he wishes to corrupt the creations of God. Satan shows the meanness of his character by plotting and planning against good:
"If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;"