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Hunter Herring
English 390
April 13, 2014
Satans Fallacy and Fall in Paradise Lost: A Story Engraved by Gustave Dor
Paradise Lost is one of the greatest literary works available to mankind. The epic poem
tells the tale of fallen angels, war with an all-powerful god, corruption, and redemption.
Paradise Lost, published in 1667 and written by John Milton, recounts the story of how the most
beautiful Lucifer became to be the bestial Devil in Christianity. Paradise Lost also tells the story
of how Adam and Eve became the heroes and the foundation of mankind. Miltons descriptive
detail allows for the readers imagination to truly experience the wonders of this epic poem. An
artist by the name of Gustave Dor recognized the great descriptive nature of Paradise Lost and
endeavored to bring the story to life through a series of engravings. Dor, a French artist, used
celebrated literary masterpieces for his artistic subjects. Dor would often use works that had
religious themes associated with them including the Bible, Dantes Divine Comedy, and Samuel
Taylor Coleridges The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Chazal). While Dors engravings closely
follow Miltons original masterpiece, the engravings tell a secondary tale that is present in the
poem but not entirely evident. The story that becomes more prevalent throughout Dors
engravings is how Lucifer, also known as Satan, fell for a second time caused unintentionally by
his own actions and characteristics. Dor depicts this secondary fall as happening as early as
Book One in the poem. Two engravings best depict the beginning of Satans second fall: Satans
Followers (figure 1) and Council in Hell (figure 2).
The first few books of Paradise Lost present a fallacy that will become debunked as the
poem progresses. This fallacy comes in the form of a question: who is the hero of Paradise
Lost? If the reader basis his or her answer solely on the context of the First through Third books
then his or her answer would undoubtedly be the character of Satan. Throughout the first two

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books Satan displays characteristics of a traditional Greco-Roman hero. Like the Greek hero
Achilles, Satan displays the character traits of defiance, independence, ambition, and pride. A
surface reading of Books One and Two of Paradise Lost would cause the reader to instantly
believe that Satan was going to be the hero of the remainder of the poem (Herman 13).
Dors engraving, Satan Rallies His Followers, best depicts why the reader may be lead
to believe that Satan is the hero. Satan in this engraving, stands high and proud while giving a
battle call for his fellow rebels to rise from the lake of fire. Satan looks like a Greco-Roman hero.
He is wearing the traditional clothing and armor of a Greek warrior, and above all he stands out
independently above any other feature that appears along side him. The sky in the engraving also
seems to be opening above him as if the sun was going to shine on him to give him grace and
success. The article, Heroism and Paradise Lost, advises the reader to look deeper and with
more complexity at the character of Satan because all is not what it seems (Herman 14). Nothing
heroic or good will ever come from the character of Satan. All of this is part of the great fallacy
of Paradise Lost:
Fallen cherub, to be weak is to be miserable,
Doing or suffering, but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. (1.157-62)
If Satan were a true hero then he would strive to do good even if it were for a selfish cause, like
the Greek heroes that he tries to emulate. Satans hatred and envy against God is so great that he
is blinded which causes him to begin to de-evolve from the greatest of Gods archangels in
Heaven to the beast that rules in Hell. In the engraving, Satan Rallies his Followers, Satan is
giving a great battle call, in Book One, in which he says To reign is worth ambition though in
hell:/ Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven (1.261-64). In this quote Satan effectively
begins his second fall.

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A closer look at the engraving shows that through his own words and actions he is
effectively causing his own destruction and failure in subsequent books. Where before the viewer
saw Satan giving a great rally to his supporters on what looked like the moral high ground the
viewer should now see an overly ambitious fiend that is alone, yet he is surrounded by pathetic,
scared, and defeated angels who seemingly want to return home. Before, the viewer would have
seen the sky opening as if to give grace to Satan, but now he or she sees Satan with his arms
reaching up to pull down monstrous storm clouds that are made up of faces of death upon
himself and his hellish host. Satan with his arms reaching up towards the sky shows how envious
and ambitious he truly is which will cause him to fail at any attempt at vengeance against God.
Satan is reaching too far which is causing him to fall into corrupt depravity. Satanic Ethos and
Envy: The Origin of Evil and Death in Paradise Lost, also asserts that it is Satans own envy
and ambition that causes his failure. The article presumes that it is Satans envy and ambition that
prevents him from seeking help from his closest advisors and repenting for his sins against God,
which isolates him from his own followers. His own character traits cause him to fail in every
way (Anderson). This isolation can clearly be recognized in Book Two when Satan is accepting
the task of finding Gods new creation.
At the end of Book One, the capital of Hell, Pandemonium, is built. The capital is
described in Book One as large, gilded in gold, and luxurious. The great capital palace of Hell is
described as a mock Greco-Roman temple, which in ancient times were reserved solely for the
gods. Satans ambition and pride deserves no less than an ostentatious temple. Dors engraving,
Council in Hell, also depicts Pandemonium as being temple like. Dors engraving closely
resembles ancient temples that were built that would have been devoted to one of the great gods
such as Zeus or Aries. At the start of Book Two, Milton gives the reader a glimpse into how
Satans pride affected the layout of Pandemonium. The council chamber where Satan and his

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followers are meeting is described similarly to an overdone European throne room with Satan
sitting on the throne. Satans need to be surrounded by the ostentatiousness shows how truly
inadequate he is as a leader.
Dors engraving shows the moment when Satan is accepting the mission to find Gods
new creation, mankind, so he may corrupt it in order to get his revenge against God. Milton
describes Satan as moving with conscience pride to accept the challenge. This description
suggests that Satan knows that he is too prideful but does not care enough to change his behavior
before it is too late. During his speech, Satan states that he must take the mission alone because
he is the only one worthy of taking up such a dauntless challenge. His pride is isolating him from
his followers and he is furthering his transformation into the terrifying devil that all Christians
know and fear.
In the engraving, Council in Hell, the signs of Satans imminent doom are subtle but
become clearer with closer inspection. The grandeur of the architecture that dominates the
engraving overshadows Satans own ambition and self-proclaimed glory. Satan is no longer the
largest object in the scene and is surrounded by what seem like rivals. While Satan is still above
those who surround him, it seems like with one false move he could begin to take a deadly fall
down the flight of stairs only to be replaced by one of the eager creatures next to him. This seems
to be foreshadowing the events to come such as Satans failure in his mission to seek vengeance
against God and his degradation into beast-hood. Like in the previous engraving, Satan has one
of his arms stretched out reaching for a goal that is unattainable. With his arm reaching out
toward the sky he again seems to be bringing destruction down on himself by reaching up and
bringing forth the fiery clouds that are ever-present. Those dark clouds seem to be the doom that
will forever hang over Satans head for the entirety of Paradise Lost.
Satans pretentiousness causes his own failures and shows him to be a truly weak
individual and leader. Dors engravings, while seemingly showing a heroic Satan, ultimately

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depict Satans shortcomings and his own great ability to bring down destruction upon himself.
The characteristics of a satanic hero become established in the first two books of Paradise Lost.
These characteristics include overwhelming pride, blinding envy, and painful independence.
Later in the poem the characters of Adam and Eve are introduced and they become the true
morally righteous heroes of Paradise Lost. They have characteristics of self-sacrifice, trust,
obedience, and humility. These characteristics are things that Satan underestimated and never
understood and never will.

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Figure One

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Figure Two

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Works Cited
Anderson, Judith. Satanic Ethos and Envy: The Origin of Evil and Death in Paradise Lost.
Milton Studies 51 (2010): n. pag. Literature Online. Web. 18 April 2014.
Chazal, Gilles. Dor, Gustave. Grove Art Online: n. pag. Oxford Art Online. Web. 16 April
Dor, Gustave. Council in Hell. 1866. Gustave Dors Illustrations for Paradise Lost. Web. 12
April 2014.
Dor, Gustave. Satans Folowers.1866. Gustave Dors Illustrations for Paradise Lost. Web. 12
April 2014.
Herman, William. Heroism and Paradise Lost. College English 21.1 (1959): 13-17. JSTOR.
Web. 16 April 2014.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. David S. Kastan. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2005. Print