Paradise Lost is an epic poem written by John Milton in the seventeenth century and it is based on the concept of epic conventions such as epic similes, invocation, catalogue or beginning in medias res. The essential theme of epic poetry is usually heroism and this poem is no exception. Since hero is mostly someone who achieves something positive, it is questionable whether Satan is hero. This essay will discuss whether Satan, which is main character, is indeed a hero or actually anti-hero. As already mentioned, epic poems usually start in the middle. Paradise Lost, Book I begins with invocation of a muse and narrating of: "man's first disobedience, and the fruit/Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste/ Brought death into the world."(l.1-3) When the narrator starts the story, angels have already fallen into the "fiery gulf" that is Hell. Milton here reminds readers of first disobedience of God and puts Satan in that context. Just like Adam and Eve fell in their faith, so did Satan when he rebelled against God. .
Furthermore, regardless of the fact that Satan is evil, he actually shows a lot of virtues that a hero embodies. He is courageous, undaunted, refuses to give up and he is a leader, able to make others follow him in his battle against God himself. Milton in his poem also uses epic simile and compares the Satan to Titans or Leviathan, which also makes reader think of him as a hero rather than a villain. The character of Satan here is not made to be repulsive but admirable. However, what Satan does not realize is the fact that his power is nothing but an illusion. He is unable to see that the battle is actually lost because God is the one that gives him the power in order for him to do as God has planned and God can take the power away from him. It seems that Satan is merely a pawn in God's greater plan and he does what God permits him: .
Chained on the burning lake, nor ever thence.