This semester, I would like to explore how Milton’s character of Satan in Paradise Lost represents a fusion of the religious, literary and political and how this was something never seen before. Previous scholarship, when analyzing the character of Satan has focused on his role as an epic hero or anti-hero. Except for Neil Forsyth’s brief research, which for the most part falls into the previously mentioned category, there is little scholarship that explores what sources Milton drew from and how he used and deviated from them. In order to examine this topic, I would explore sources that Milton would have been familiar with, and analyze those sources by looking at how the character of Satan was used for making an argument, and how the author used the character or traits of this archetype in creating and making their argument. I am also interested in researching how these character depictions in these sources compare to Milton’s, and what these depictions represented during the time period.
There are several questions that will guide my research. How was the character of Satan used to personify a particular religious or political figure of the time (pope, anti-royalists)? How did religious representations of Satan differ from the political representations and what is the significance of these differences? How did the character of Satan move from a strictly religious character used to one used in polemics and what prompted these changes? How does the author of any given source use the character of Satan (as a figure to be feared, moral lesson, as an anti-hero)and how seriously does the author treat the character of Satan? What role did the character play in nationalistic arguments? How was devil imagery used to mask dangerous political positions?
In order to answer these questions, primary sources such as Christ and Satan, Malleus Maleficarum, Inferno, Daemonologie, King James Bible and Paradise Lost will be used, as well as secondary, scholarly articles.