Loosely related: Was Paradise Lost the first major work of literature to give "sympathy for the devil"?

In Paradise Lost, Lucifer/Satan appears to have at least some heroic characteristics, such as courage and (apparent) dedication to his comrades. His tragic flaw, of course, is his arrogance, with him declaring at one point "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

He also set the events of the story in motion, including fomenting an all-out rebellion in Heaven as well as the fall of man, through his arrogance.

With that said, is he actually a tragic hero of sorts?

  • I up-voted, but you may want to consider changing to how he was a tragic hero. I just worry that the interpretation of what a tragic hero is could lead to answers you weren't looking for. – Matrim Cauthon Mar 26 '18 at 22:57

There's a useful observation in Simone Weils Gravity and Grace, edited Gustave Thibon from her notebooks, which might help your confusion on this:

Literature and morality: Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren and boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating. Therefore 'imaginative literature' is either boring or immoral (or a mixture of both). It only escapes from this alternative if in some way it passes over to the side of reality through the power of art - and only genius can do that.

(Gustave Thibon classified this observation under the category of evil, in his thematic division of her book).

Given that she thought Shakespeare generally a second-rate author of plays (apart from King Lear), her standards were very high (but of course ought to argue that standards ought to be high - otherwise why have them?) So, I don't think she would count Milton as the kind of true genius who had the power of transmuting imaginative literature into the kind of transcendently real art, the kind of art that points at the real, even on the unreal plane that imaginative literature plays on, that she was looking for.

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