Milton depicts Lucifer in a very unique way in his work Paradise Lost. In lines 242 to 270, Lucifer exclaims his defiance against God and, furthermore, his lack of interest in changing. Lucifer truly believes he has the power to become greater than God. This shows how much of a high-risk creature Lucifer is. The quote, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” shows Lucifer’s unwillingness to better himself, and furthermore shows how strong he is in his opinions, even though they are completely backwards (Milton 263).
Milton shows Lucifer as a quite envious character, wanting to be essentially just like God, ruling his part of the world, Hell, as opposed to God’s heaven. Lucifer goes on explaining how in Hell, “at least we shall be free…” and then explains the positives of God being “out of the picture” in Hell (Milton 258-259). Lucifer is seen as quite obsessive in the given passage, so focused on comparing himself with God and heaven, and doing whatever he can to make sure his Hell is seen as more superior. Although Lucifer is clearly evil, he is also seen as an anti-hero that readers can somehow relate to. Lucifer craves sympathy, and readers, like myself, cannot help but feel for him. In my opinion, God and Lucifer represent a very common archetype of the “older brother,” or in this case father. God is always more successful, and is always seen in a better light, while Lucifer is stuck in his shadow. Readers can relate to this feeling of being “second best,” and therefore classify him as a hero, even if he has evil tendencies.
Milton’s Lucifer has made a huge mark on literature through his creation of a very unpredictable anti-hero. Milton’s Lucifer explored a new, unexplored area in literature that was somewhat revolutionary, as it completely changed the way readers rigidly classified a hero and villain. Milton furthered the idea of the anti-hero, and helped literature evolve into the multilayered creative outlet it is today.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Scott Elledge. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1975.