Saturday, January 23, 2010

Satan Within Us?

I know we talked about this extensively in class, but it absolutely fascinated me, so I'm continuing my thoughts here. Most of the class agreed that Milton's intention was for the reader to not only sympathize with Satan, but identify with his character. While this is somewhat disturbing (especially being a religious reader), I think it is interesting how I can undeniably find several of Satan's characteristics (mostly his flaws) in myself. Undoubtedly, we as humans are inherently ambitious and unwilling to admit when we are wrong. While Satan is obviously the extreme embodiment of human's most flawed characteristics, it is strikingly easier to identify with his flawed personality than the flawlessness of God. Milton shows God as a somewhat boring character (his presence is hardly even seen in the Books that we read). However, Satan is meant to be the hero (?) of the story - and, by definition, a hero is one with whom we must be able to identify and see within ourselves. During such a religiously and politically conflicted time, Milton makes us question not only an absolute monarchy, but also what we as humans think of ourselves and our character as a flawed race of people.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are quite right about Milton's goals--the poem is a political commentary but also raises ontological questions about what "world" the poem represents. We identify with Satan, from Milton's perspective, because of our fallen state; however, as other posts suggest, the poem also represents Eve in a way that suggests she is far from "innocent"--in fact she fits the contemporary (17th century) stereotype of the coy, manipulative woman quite neatly. This problem--the imperfect distinction between the fallen and pure states--remains a central concern of the poem.