Satan’s Self-Doubt

In book four of Paradise Lost, we are given a more human picture of Satan, contrasting with the self-assured and powerful Satan in Pandaemonium. Here, Satan seems to allude to a sense of self-doubt, as if he isn’t sure that his path if the right one. He is torn and emotionally conflicted, and I wonder to what end? In one line, Satan says:

O had his powerful destiny ordained / Me some inferior angel, I had stood / Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised / Ambition…

Paradise Lost, 4.58-61

In this quote, and echoed in the rest of the passage, is Satan wishing that he was not given the burden of rebelling? Or that he was born as a less powerful angel, because then he wouldn’t have the same task? It’s almost as if he regrets his role in the rebellion, yet he had no choice. His resolution at the end of the passage feels hollow, as if he is only evil because he has to be, because he’s the only one powerful enough to accomplish what is required of him. It’s a curious sentiment, and I’m curious to see if its reflected later in the poem.

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