skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » , » Satan as a Renaissance hero

The Renaissance was an intellectual, moral and cultural movement which marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern world. It freed man’s mind from the slavery of the monastic ideals, asserted the supremacy of reason and inspired him to take an aesthetic delight in the beauties of the world and the pleasures of the senses. It was further characterised by the spirit of adventure, love for beauty, moral earnestness, a love for richness and magnificence, power and pelf, etc. Satan stands as the most dominant and powerful figure of the Renaissance in Book-I of Paradise Lost. He exists most abidingly in our mind after we have finished reading the Book. 

In the presentation of Satan’s character, Milton is animated with the Renaissance love for romance, chivalry and adventure as in the following lines spoken by Satan: 

“To reign is worth ambition though is Hell Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” 

Satan’s heroic leadership which is characteristic of the Renaissance may be traced in his initiative, rebellions and cunning, possessed by almost all the mighty conquers of the world. These great men, as we know from history must have acted from some great motive. Milton has in a grand manner infused in Satan the element of intense selfishness and pride, the alcohol of egotism. 

Revolt against the spiritual authority or the administration of the church was one of the main causes behind the Renaissance. Similarly Satan is also a rebel against the monarchy of God. This is clearly indicated when he declares before the assembly of the fallen angels, his firm determination to wage a war, open or secret, against the Almighty. 

To use classical models in English poetry was a fashion of the Renaissance. Milton also, after the classical model uses extensively epic similes to draw the physical stature of Satan. To draw the gigantic figure of Satan the poet describes the objects he carries. The shield and the spear he carries have been respectively compared to the moon and the mast of a flagship. Again his comparison to the largest sea-monster Leviathan or to a proud tower and later on to the Sun, dimmed behind the mist on the horizon is simply remarkable. Satan, as we find, has not yet lost all the original brightness of an angel in Heaven, for he may still be compared to the Sun and the Moon. 

On the moral or intellectual level also Satan appears as a great Renaissance political leader, endowed with indomitable courage, obdurate pride, implacable hatred, endurance of suffering, and longing for revenge. His indomitable will and his undying spirit of revenge may be traced in the following lines spoken by him to Beelzebub: 

“Fallen cherub, to be weak is miserable, Doing or suffering” 

His third speech reveals yet another characteristic of his personality — his stoicism and indifference to pleasure and pain: 

“Farewell, happy fields Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors hail,” 

Thus Satan’s skill as a great Renaissance leader and orator is proved time and again in his different speeches delivered by him to _ rouse his comrades from the condition of torpor and despondency. 

Summing up our discussion we can say that Satan’s character in Book I of Paradise Lost is essentially evil but it is undoubtedly a powerful Renaissance character which indirectly reflects Milton’s own heroic energy. Satan is the prototype of the eternal evil, a Machiavellian Renaissance hero who will continue to fight with the good. We cannot but marvel at his indomitable will, stubborn pride. courage and fortitude in adversity, and organising capacity as the leader of the fallen angels.


Post a Comment

Back To Top