[Milton-L] The Milton Controversy and Satan

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 15 18:18:26 EST 2005

Ultimately unattractive, of course, Michael. But unattractive from the
start? That was never Fish's position . . . nor is it Milton's. The image of
Satan "vaunting aloud, though rack't with deep despair" is a good
illustration of the poem's initially (and purposefully) ambivalent attitude
toward the fallen archangel: your undergraduate professor's myopia aside,
Satan is not Iago, monolithically evil -- he is you and me, with the
capacity for compassion, for despair, and for good. Blake's comment that
Milton was "of the devil's party without knowing it," taken in context, is
made in the same spirit. Satan is far from the hero of the poem, but he
embodies the virtues of classical heroism . . . see Arnold Stein, and John
Steadman, et al. on the Miltonic portrayal of the Christian hero.


Carol Barton

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