Head of the rebellious angels who have just fallen from Heaven. As the poem’s antagonist, Satan is the originator of sin—the first to be ungrateful for God the Father’s blessings. He embarks on a mission to Earth that eventually leads to the fall of Adam and Eve, but also worsens his eternal punishment. His character changes throughout the poem. Satan often appears to speak rationally and persuasively, but later in the poem we see the inconsistency and irrationality of his thoughts. He can assume any form, adopting both glorious and humble shapes.
Read an in-depth analysis of Satan.
The first human, the father of our race, and, along with his wife Eve, the caretaker of the Garden of Eden. Adam is grateful and obedient to God, but falls from grace when Eve convinces him to join her in the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
Read an in-depth analysis of Adam.
The first woman and the mother of mankind. Eve was made from a rib taken from Adam’s side. Because she was made from Adam and for Adam, she is subservient to him. She is also weaker than Adam, so Satan focuses his powers of temptation on her. He succeeds in getting her to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree despite God’s command.
Read an in-depth analysis of Eve.
One part of the Christian Trinity. God the Father creates the world by means of God the Son, creating Adam and Eve last. He foresees the fall of mankind through them. He does not prevent their fall, in order to preserve their free will, but he does allow his Son to atone for their sins.
Jesus Christ, the second part of the Trinity. He delivers the fatal blow to Satan’s forces, sending them down into Hell, before the creation of Earth. When the fall of man is predicted, He offers himself as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind, so that God the Father can be both just and merciful.
Satan’s second-in-command. Beelzebub discusses with Satan their options after being cast into Hell, and at the debate suggests that they investigate the newly created Earth. He and Satan embody perverted reason, since they are both eloquent and rational but use their talents for wholly corrupt ends.
One of the principal devils in Hell. Belial argues against further war with Heaven, but he does so because he is an embodiment of sloth and inactivity, not for any good reason. His eloquence and learning is great, and he is able to persuade many of the devils with his faulty reasoning.
A devil known in the Bible as the epitome of wealth. Mammon always walks hunched over, as if he is searching the ground for valuables. In the debate among the devils, he argues against war, seeing no profit to be gained from it. He believes Hell can be improved by mining the gems and minerals they find there.
The devil who builds Pandemonium, Satan’s palace in Hell. Mulciber’s character is based on a Greek mythological figure known for being a poor architect, but in Milton’s poem he is one of the most productive and skilled devils in Hell.
A rash, irrational, and murderous devil. Moloch argues in Pandemonium that the devils should engage in another full war against God and his servant angels.
Satan’s daughter, who sprang full-formed from Satan’s head when he was still in Heaven. Sin has the shape of a woman above the waist, that of a serpent below, and her middle is ringed about with Hell Hounds, who periodically burrow into her womb and gnaw her entrails. She guards the gates of Hell.
Satan’s son by his daughter, Sin. Death in turn rapes his mother, begetting the mass of beasts that torment her lower half. The relations between Death, Sin, and Satan mimic horribly those of the Holy Trinity.
One of the archangels of Heaven, who acts as a guard at the Garden of Eden. Gabriel confronts Satan after his angels find Satan whispering to Eve in the Garden.
One of the archangels in Heaven, who acts as one of God’s messengers. Raphael informs Adam of Satan’s plot to seduce them into sin, and also narrates the story of the fallen angels, as well as the fall of Satan.
An angel who guards the planet earth. Uriel is the angel whom Satan tricks when he is disguised as a cherub. Uriel, as a good angel and guardian, tries to correct his error by making the other angels aware of Satan’s presence.
An angel who at first considers joining Satan in rebellion but argues against Satan and the rebel angels and returns to God. His character demonstrates the power of repentance.
The chief of the archangels, Michael leads the angelic forces against Satan and his followers in the battle in Heaven, before the Son provides the decisive advantage. Michael also stands guard at the Gate of Heaven, and narrates the future of the world to Adam in Books XI and XII.