Tool of the Devil: Comparing Satan in Paradise Lost and the Golden Compass

2370 words 10 pages
The devil, in literature, is always a catalyst of change for those who encounter him. He is a force working underground, moving against what is widely considered virtuous and good, and it is contact with him that often changes the course of characters lives, and even the world. In Paradise Lost and a book based on it, The Golden Compass, ‘the devil', in both cases, is an advocate for moving away from the control of God and the Church. Where the stories differ, is in the author's intent for these actions. In the former, John Milton uses the devil to display how vanity and pride are the sins that halt us in an opportunity to live blissfully, with and under God. Philip Pullman, in his twist on Paradise Lost, The Golden Compass, claims that …show more content…

Satan, "is clearly attempting to provoke Eve to precisely the same "sense of injur'd merit" that led to his own desire..." (107, Cullen) by flattering her and questioning why someone who is so beautiful, must live among animals. C.S. Lewis notes that through all Satan's lies and manipulation, he does "not know whether we can distinguish his conscious lies from the blindness which he has almost willingly imposed upon himself" (Lewis, 97). The same question can be posed for Lord Asriel. He uses the fact that Lyra admires him so deeply, to subtly convince her to go out North (to where he is being helped captive), free him and provide him with what he needs to create a bridge to another universe (his ultimate goal, that the church has been attempting to stop him from doing). His daughter, upon realizing what he has done, thinks, "She had struggled all this way to bring something to Lord Asriel, thinking she knew what he wanted; and it wasn't the alethimeter at all. What he wanted was a child. She had brought him Roger." (Pullman, 334). It is quite evident that Lord Asriel "believes his own propaganda" (Lewis, XIII 97) as he has become fanatical in terms of his beliefs and curiosity. Satan's struggle for freedom and independence are far from alien concepts to any person. "Milton's devil stands for the essences of human individuation and thus comes within the scope of psychology" (Werblowski, XI). These are part of the reasons