Date of Award

Summer 1948

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This is by no means an attempt to present an exhaustive survey of Miltonic criticism. Its purpose is merely to show the chief critical trends in regard to the Satan of Paradise Lost. During the years of Milton criticism, many ideas concerning the man and his epic have been advanced and many discarded. Milton's Satan has never been a problem in Milton scholarship. Up until a few years ago perhaps no question received more discussion than Satan's position in Paradise Lost. Critics are continually on the alert with their ever abounding questions. How did Satan acquire such a heroic standing? What superior force compelled Milton to choose Satan for his hero? What flight of fancy compelled him to endow Satan with such a glamorous figure that the deity, Adam, and Eve were insignificant in comparison? Upon whom did Milton lavish his sympathy? Whom did Milton favor with his admiration in Paradise Lost? Was Milton still inhaling the puritanical air of Cromwell's reign? These and numerous other perplexing questions perturbed Milton scholars. It is the purpose of the writer to consider the criticism of Milton's Satan under four heads: first, the works of those critics who consider Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost; second, the works of those critics who consider Satan as an exponent of freedom and liberty; third, the work of those critics who consider Satan as an embodiment of Milton himself; and fourth, the multiportrayalists. In making this division the writer has taken into consideration the critical trend of the centuries the criticism of the neoclassical and the eighteenth century in which classical influence demanded an epic hero; the early nineteenth century in which the romantic demands for freedom and liberty were paramount; that of the later nineteenth century in which the romantic and realistic influence combined; and that of the twentieth century in which the psychological influence demands portrayal of the poet as the hero of his poem.