Seductive Evil in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

Some have criticized Paradise Lost for its sympathetic portrayal of Satan as a heroic and appealing character. At times, Satan’s actions seem somewhat justified: he considers himself to be an innocent victim, suffering alienation once exiled from Heaven. This begs the question: why is Milton’s Satan not more obviously “evil”? Why has the stereotypical, red, horned “Devil” been replaced by a somewhat sympathetic, fallen angel? Does this imply that Paradise Lost failed at its task of moral education, or that perhaps Milton’s own understanding of evil was ambiguous, unclear or incomplete? What Milton demonstrates in his sympathetic depictions of the devils, rather, is a far more complex understanding of the essential nature of evil as a strong, seductive force that one must resist with vigilance.