“Pride and worse ambition threw me down”(4.40) says Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This short and simple confession hides several deep meanings and significant messages to humankind. That is because it is not only Satan who stumbles by the sin of pride. Satan is the tempter and foe of mankind, and he imposes his own ill traits on mankind while trying to draw him to the depths of hell. That is, like Satan human may think highly of himself though he is not. In Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus presents an impressive example of how limitless human is in swelling with pride. Pride was a common theme during Renaissance and, both Milton and Marlowe demonstrated how it can lead a catastrophe. Pride is the reason why both Satan and Doctor Faustus turns against God, cannot repent despite their regret, and eventually destructed and punished by God.
Firstly, it is pride, their common trait, which leads Satan in Doctor Faustus to rebel against God. When we look at Satan’s situation he is in the Heaven as well as other angels, so what makes him to be fallen from there? God creates Son and makes him His most favorite one, and puts him in a higher position than Satan and other angels are. This is the point when Satan becomes Satan. He is jealous of Son because his pride makes him suppose that he should be the superior, the most beloved and valued. In lines 686-690 (Book 6), he says, “for they weened/ That selfsame day by fight, or by surprise/ To win the Mount of God, and on His throne/ To set the envier of His State, the proud /Aspirer”. These lines are an example of how his pride makes him an “aspirer” to God. However, we can see his desire for superiority when he, disguised as a serpent, and trying to deceive Eve; he says, “Look on me! /Me who have touched and tasted yet both live /And life more perfect have attained than fate /Meant me, by vent’ring higher than my Lot.”
He teems with the idea of “a more perfect life,” and he tries to contaminate others with the same idea. His uneasiness is not only with Son, but he is unsatisfactory with God as well. Eventually, he rebels against God and be placed in Hell. As Milton starts medias res, the adventure of Satan, actually, begins when he is fallen in Hell. His fatal pride and ambition leads him to claim battle with God; he is so blinded with ambition that he cannot see his limitations. In this sense, he behaves naively in spite of his heroic characteristic, and he is so proud of his army that he never thinks he will be defeated. For example, “How such united force of gods, how such/ As stood like these, could ever know repulse?”
Here, he thinks a strong force as his will never know “repulse”. Another praise of his army is between the lines 631-634 (Book 1): “For who can yet believe, though after loss, /That all these puissant legions whose exile /Hath emptied Heav’n shall fail to re-ascend,/ Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?” He thinks so highly of his army that they surely will get their seats back in the Heaven. In short, Satan’s pride does not only lead her to rebel but also to fight with God.
When we look at Doctor Faustus, though he is a human; that means he is son of Adam and enemy of Satan, he follows the paths of Satan and his pride gives rise to other sins; as a result his relation with God is broken. Doctor Faustus is a scientist who is obsessed with the idea of conjuring; however, his greatest sin is pride, which is the greatest of seven deadly sins and the one leading others. Before the play begins the Chorus tells us his pride: “Till swollen with cunning, of a self conceit” (page 1, 1.0.20). He is so proud of himself that he becomes self- conceit. Due to his pride, Doctor Faustus searches knowledge beyond human realm for power. Thus, pride brings greed, which is not just for knowledge but also for wealth. He believes thorough magic he will be richer; he says, “”A world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor, of omnipotence” (page 5, 1.1.1-2). Eventually, he makes a deal with devil and trades his soul for knowledge.
Making a deal with Devil means to defy God, because he is not satisfied with what God has given him. Doctor Faustus regards himself on a higher level than devils and hell; “ I charge thee to return and change thy shape,/ Thou art too ugly to attend on me; (scene 3, 23-24). He thinks nothing will happen to him; “Come, I think hell’s a fable”. His challenge with God progresses throughout the play; he supposes he is more deserving the special dish than the Pope; “POPE: My Lord, here is a dainty dish was sent to me from the bishop of Milan. FAUSTUS: I thank you, sir. [snatch it] (scene 7, 62-64)” This behavior to Pope is a disrespect to God as well. He goes further and declares he can be “Great Emperor of the world,” able to “Make a bridge through the moving air,” which is a clear defiance to God. Secondly, even the Despair of Doctor Faustus is another aspect of his pride, which prevents him from prevent as Satan’s pride suggests God will not forgive him.
Both characters feel regret from time to time; Good Angels ask Dr Faustus to repent and give chance to release from his deal with Lucifer, on the other hand; Satan struggles with Despair throughout the epic. However, they are so blinded with pride that anything good has no meaning to them. We can see Satan’s sorrow in these lines: , “…for now the thought/Both of lost happiness and lasting pain/Torments him…”(1.55-56). Yet, his pride overcomes his regret: “All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,/ And courage never to submit or yield:/ And what is else not to be overcome? / That Glory never shall his wrath or might/ Extort from me.” Another time when he thinks of reconciliation he immediately gives up, “say I could repent and could obtain/By act of grace my former state; how soon/Would height recall high thoughts” (4, 93-95). Similarly, in his encounters with Good Angels, Doctor Faustus is tempted by his pride and believes no need to doubt because nothing can hurt him “FAUSTUS. What god can hurt thee, Faustus? Thou art safe, /Cast no more doubts. (scene 5, 25-26).
In Paradise Lost, Satan decides it is too late to repent because of his pride (4. 80-82); in a Satanic way Doctor Faustus believes when Devil tells him it is too late to repent. Both cannot see the power and mercy of God because they have already refused His grace before. Thirdly, both Satan and Doctor Faustus encounter punishment, and fall from grace of God; that is their pride prepares their tragic end. Firstly, when we look at Satan’s situation we see that his pride caused him to fall two times. At first, his pride leads him to envy Son, and he is punished by casted off to Hell. His first fall; ““Him the Almighty Power/ Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky/ With hideous ruin and combustion down / To bottomless perdition, there to dwell (44) As Milton begins medias res he focuses on the second flaw.
He does not choose the way to repent, instead; his pride grows to such an extent that he claims battle over God. Inevitably, he is defeated at last though his achievement to cause Adam and Eve to be exiled from Paradise. Satan’s attempts due to his pride and his fall is clearly explained in these lines; ““To set himself in glory above his peers,/ He trusted to have equaled the Most High, / If he opposed; and with ambitious aim/ Against the throne and monarchy of God, / Raised impious was in Heaven and battle proud /With vain attempt.”(39-44). Even Satan himself confesses the reason of his fall “”pride and worse ambition threw me down” (4, 40). ” Secondly, when we look at Doctor Faustus his fall due to his pride and how he follows the paths of Satan is foreshadowed at the beginning; when he inquires Satan, Mephastophilis replies “O, by aspiring pride and insolence / For which God threw him from the face of Heaven. (scene 3, 66-68).
That demonstrates why Satan has fallen and implies how Doctor Faustus, who makes a deal with Satan, will fall. Before that, in prologue the Chorus explicitly suggests he will fall due to his pride: “Till, swollen with cunning, of a self conceit, /His waxen wings did mount above his reach,/ And melting heavens conspired his overthrow. (prologue,18-22). In conclusion, a heavenly character and a human being intersect in their characteristics, flaws, and ends. Satan in Paradise Lost and Doctor Faustus in Marlowe’s play swell with pride; the former claiming himself an enemy to God, and the latter denying the power of God. Both, inability to repent, allow their pride, to become excessive and bring their downfall.
Courtney from Study Moose
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