God and Satan Characters in “Paradise Lost”

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It is easy to draw similarities between God’s rule and the methods he uses, and the rule of recent totalitarian regimes. Throughout Paradise Lost God employs the same tactics as rulers such as Stalin and Hitler, the most prominent of which are the cult of personality, propaganda, and rule of terror. Satan on the other hand can be viewed as a freedom fighter or a failed revolutionary who utilizes Machiavellian techniques in an attempt to change the system.

In Book 3 we see God and his son looking down on the earth at Adam and Eve in the garden of eden, Satan is seen flying flying across the gulf between heaven and Earth and all at once God sees not only this but also the past and future. God knows Satan will lead man to their downfall, because of this he tells his son he will be merciful in his punishment of mankind. God then tells his son that those who trust in God will be saved, but there must be a worthy sacrifice from heaven, however when he asks the angels everyone is silent. It is the that the Son volunteers himself as sacrifice vowing to eventually return to heaven with those who have been redeemed and sit with God who will then be able to be both just and merciful.

The characters of God and Satan do not focus on the traditional polarity of good and evil but rather a difference in views of justice and world order. God can be viewed as the elite ruler, untouchable, seemingly all knowing, powerful, and indestructible. Satan on the other hand can be seen as representing revolutionaries, he seeks change and freedom is willing to do anything to achieve them. God is the epitome of totalitarian rule, and as we see in totalitarian rulers God has the full acceptance of those he rules over and has the charisma to keep the populations attention. Both Stalin and Hitler enjoyed a god like status which makes the comparison between themselves and God himself less farfetched.

The cult of personality is an important tool of totalitarianism, both Hitler and Stalin’s regimes employed this strategy which enabled the dictatorships to flourish and set them above regular people. Totalitarian regimes are generally supported by the elite members of society, it is the masses, or the ordinary people that need to be swooned into submission. Where the cult of personality ends, propaganda begins. The elites in Paradise Lost are represented by the unfallen angels, they need no convincing, they follow every word of God without hesitation and have full faith in him. In fact they are so confident that they spread the propaganda themselves. The product of propaganda is undying loyalty to the regime, with an unwavering belief in the system.

This is seen in Paradise Lost, the unfallen angels cast aside their fallen brethren, the fallen humans, and accept their own grim fate as a result of God’s propaganda. Where these two tactics fail fear comes in. The argument could be made that in totalitarian regimes the most dangerous place to be is closest to the center of power. Think Stalin’s Russia in which it was not uncommon for punishments of death after the occurrence of a minor transgression for those in high offices. God is both feared and loved by the angels, he continually establishes his powers and his willingness to use them against internal and external enemies.

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God and Satan Characters in “Paradise Lost”. (2021, Nov 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/god-and-satan-characters-in-paradise-lost/

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