From Paradise Lost to Contemporary Political Turmoil:
Drawing Profound Parallels Between John Milton’s Portrayal of Satan and Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremist Politicians of the Modern Era
Penned in the 17th century, John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” stands as an undeniable cornerstone of literary achievement. Its enduring popularity rests not only in its epic narrative and poetic grandeur, but also in its deep exploration of complex characters. Perhaps most intriguing among them is Satan. Charismatic, ambitious, and eloquent, he nevertheless succumbs to self-interest, his rebellion against God driven by a desire for power rather than genuine concern for his fellow angels. This characterization provides a compelling metaphorical lens through which to scrutinize the behavior of extremist politicians in the modern era, particularly those who have launched targeted attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.
In “Paradise Lost,” Satan is portrayed as a fallen angel, rebelling against the divine authority of God. His charisma and eloquence are remarkable, enabling him to rally a faction of angels to join him in his rebellion. His persuasive speech revolves around themes of freedom and independence, and he skillfully frames his insubordination as a stand against oppressive power. However, beneath his defiant rhetoric, Satan’s actions are guided predominantly by self-interest and an insatiable quest for power, revealing a significant gap between his words and his true intentions.
This characterization of Satan bears alarming similarities to the behavior of certain extremist politicians today. Much like Milton’s fallen angel, these politicians often display exceptional charisma and persuasive abilities. They deploy powerful rhetoric, framing their actions and policies as a crusade against an oppressive system, thereby appealing to a sense of rebellion and desire for liberation among their followers. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that their aims often extend beyond the freedom they claim to champion. Rather, their actions are frequently driven by a desire to consolidate personal power and influence.
This dynamic takes on an especially disconcerting dimension when such politicians focus their efforts on marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community. By stoking fears and prejudices, they can create and exploit societal divisions, akin to how Satan stirred discord in Heaven. They may amplify an “us versus them” mentality, encouraging hostility towards these marginalized groups to rally their base and further consolidate their own position. The outcome is an environment that enables and perpetuates discrimination, hate crimes, and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals, stripping them of their rights and safety.
Furthermore, these extremist politicians often display a twisted sense of heroism that mirrors Satan’s own. They portray themselves as champions of a cause, battling against an established order they deem to be oppressive or misguided. This self-righteous perspective, however, often blinds them to the real-world harm they cause. Their policies and rhetoric, framed as heroic or necessary, can have devastating effects on the LGBTQ+ community. These consequences range from legislative measures restricting their rights to an increase in societal prejudice and discrimination, affecting every aspect of their lives from employment and healthcare access to social acceptance and personal safety.
The comparison between Milton’s Satan and modern extremist politicians is not made lightly, nor is it intended to demonize individuals. Instead, it serves to shed light on the potential dangers of charismatic leadership, particularly when it veers into the territory of extremism and targets vulnerable groups. It is a reminder that charisma and persuasive speech can be powerfully attractive, but they can also be harnessed to promote self-interest and harmful ideologies.
It’s important to reflect on our responsibilities as informed citizens and critical readers. These comparisons between literature and real-world scenarios encourage us to question and critically evaluate the actions and motivations of those who seek our allegiance. They remind us that we should look beyond the surface, questioning the rhetoric and investigating the potential disparities between words and actions.
In a broader sense, these reflections can motivate us to stand against discrimination and bigotry in all its forms. Recognizing the parallels between the turmoil in Milton’s celestial realm and the unrest in our contemporary political landscape, we might find ourselves compelled to contribute towards a more inclusive, compassionate, and equitable society.