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Satan in John Milton’s and Dante’s Works Essay

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Updated: Aug 21st, 2020

John Milton’s Satan

From His Book ‘Paradise Lost’ (1667), Milton’s description of Satan, remains one of the most important epic poems to date. The way he describes Satan physically and emotionally is very convincing in many ways. The way he describes hell is very similar to what we view in the normal world. He describes it as a stagnant and sweltering place in which peace can never come as it is a fiery flood of ‘ever burning sulphur unconsumed’ that is contained in hell.

Milton makes one picture of hell with a lot of fear and sacredness it deserves. In this, he describes Satan in the same manner; he describes Satan as the dark side of life and paradise. Milton depicts Satan as the most animal part of human nature. As you go through the first part of his book, Milton portrays Satan as a very heroic being, leading an army of angels in the dark world. Even Satins charismatic, dominant, and powerful affection is overwritten by his evilness (Milton John p 27).

Perhaps one remarkable part of Milton’s perception of Satan is in his continuous view of Satan as a person with a lot of charisma. In his book ‘paradise lost’, Satan seems to come out as a heroic figure, although, as the poem goes on to describe, Satan looses this charisma and retains his evil part of the outcasts.

As one reads through, one gets the feeling that Milton tries to compare the character of Satan and that of human nature. Satan is seen as being one arrogant, selfish and dictatorial, wanting all for him. At this Milton shows how Satan in his own way portrays human characteristics. Satan is a very ambitious and dedicated to his fight for power, status and reputation. He fights to be in control and reputation that people will stand up to and see him as a person they can find satisfaction to all needs. Since his enmity with God that led to his alienation, the angels have continued to see him as their emancipator and perhaps their one way to the free world.

Throughout Milton’s shows us the struggle of Satan as he repeatedly tries to retain his position as a powerful person for the sake of his followers. So that he can still make them see god as a selfish person who has not felt for other people but himself.

But in this we can see Satan as someone who has a lot of pain and regret over his actions and is always fighting to get back his position as a leader of other angels and the man next to god.

Dante’s Satan

Unlike Milton, Dante gives a picture of Satan as a helpless beast frozen mid breast in ice at the centre of hell, as he flaps his wings the place freezes more and extends to other sinners around him in the ninth circle. Here, the worse that could happen to a human is to be sent to the freezing temperature and not the hot inferno as described by John Milton. Satan has three heads as portrayed in the book.

He depicts Satan as being lusciously revengeful and tragic. Satan seems so be sad as he finds himself in hell, symbolically showing that he is alienated from God. And thus lost the self through contempt, self deception and the misuse of freedom, frozen in ice and unable to exert his insatiable will to power.

According to Dante, Satan is the complete opposite of God, Unlike Milton’s Satan, where we see him commanding angels and having control over humans, and with a sense of charisma. Dantes Satan is a meaningless beast, succumbed by futility, darkness and non being to the point very far away from Godliness. (Russell, Jeffrey, Burton159-160)

Dante’s Satan is surrounded by misery, hate, loneliness, without love and hideous with heaviness to buoyancy. According to Dante, Satan is blind, speechless, lifeless, stupid, very inside than outside and fear to open up. He is a helpless, opposite image of a king, and a leader of a lifeless kingdom, ruling lifeless and wicked people like himself in dark cold hell. His three faces depict a distorted mirror of the trinity.

Satan is seen as a black grave, sad, immobile and lifeless all over the face of the world to the cursed underworld surrounded by wicked and sad sinners like him. He is a forgotten world, yearning for love and respect among the lost world, among the angels who were once commanded by him but he is locked in between his misery and sounded by miserable lives.

The cold river in which he is a stagnant beast is the opposite image in which the followers see Gods reflection. Not like John Milton, Dante continuous to show Satan as a less powerful leader. According to him, Satan does not have the command of Hell, but receives and goes through the same punishment as other people around him. They are all slobbering wordless sinners.

Works Cited

Milton, John, Paradise Lost: And other Poems. New York: penguin Books, 2009 Print.

Russell, Jeffrey, Burton, A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence’ Princeton, University Press, 2010, Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Satan in John Milton’s and Dante’s Works'. 21 August.

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