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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Milton's Satan; a study of his origin and significance Siemens, Katie


My thesis is a study of the poetic origin of Milton's Satan and his significance apart from his dramatic function in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. I have tried to establish Satan's poetic origin by investigating the studies of a number of prominent critics, Milton's own prose works, such as the Eikonoklastes and his Second Defence, and also the correspondences between Satan's speeches and the words of King Charles I in his Eikon Bazilike. From these studies I have drawn the conclusion that Milton used King Charles I as he appears in the Eikon Bazilike as his model for Satan. Since Milton hated the King for his tyranny, Milton's emotional involvement and the human model resulted in the portrayal of a Satan, whose vividness and realism make him one of the most towering Satans in world literature. Satan's true significance lies in his revelation of Milton's personality. He reflects Milton's thoughts, his political and religious philosophy, his attitudes towards contemporary events, and his personality traits. Milton's development of Satan's personality reveals his unsurpassed craftsmanship as a poetic artist. As we follow Satan's career we discover a new Milton, differing enormously from the generally accepted conception of a stern Puritan. The Milton revealed in Satan's action has a keen appreciate of all that is beautiful in the universe, besides moral values. He has a sense of humour and a capacity for friendship, hitherto found incompatible with Milton's retiring character. Paradise Lost also shows us Milton's hope for the future. In man's regeneration he looks forward to an England liberated from the tyranny of kings, while his spiritual vision embraces the realization of God's initial purpose when he created man; namely, that "Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth."

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