C4P: Alice Capstick - The Antihero’s Journey: The Influence of Milton’s Satan on the Evolution of th



Luna's third Call for Papers, A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction will be released on Wednesday the 14th of August, at Dublin Worldcon. Explore the 21 brilliant papers you will find in the book.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Alice Capstick (Australia). PhD student in literary studies at Monash University.

Presenting the paper: The Antihero’s Journey: The Influence of Milton’s Satan on the Evolution of the Dark Hero

Alice says:

"John Milton’s depiction of Satan in his 1667 Paradise Lost had considerable influence on the development of antiheroic figures throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These figures distorted the conventional dichotomy between good and evil characters in such a way that a new archetype began to emerge that was neither entirely villainous, or heroic – but instead a tragic struggle between the two. Given that the continuing influence of the antiheroic figure, who is a unique blend of the characteristics traditionally used to polarise heroic and villainous characters – sometimes referred to as a “problematic heroes” or “dark heroes” – the antihero requires a similar level of attention to what is given to the traditional heroic archetype of the “pure” hero. I argue that Satan is the first incarnation of the modern antihero, and his unprecedented sublimity, symbiotic relationship with evil, and tormented aesthetic is what makes his antiheroic character an ideal case study to understand the characterisation of the antihero and consider its evolution over time. I propose an alternative model to Joseph Campbell’s 1949 Jungian monomyth of “The Hero’s Journey”, to reimagine increasingly popular archetypal characters who do not comply with traditional heroic standards. This three-part model examines the antihero’s “rise”, “reign”, and “ruin”, a structure which focusses on the relationship between the antihero’s good and evil characteristics; in particular, their relationship with power, and the impact of their tormented and degrading infernal psychology. By examining Satan’s influential journey as a means of developing a model by which to understand the antiheroic journey, I argue that the antihero is more relevant and prominent today than ever before, and that through continued consideration of the “antihero’s journey”, we can understand the evolution of these complicated characters as a commentary of the nature of humanity’s relationship with evil."

Alice Capstick completed her undergraduate degree at Monash University before continuing her interest in the figure of the dark hero in her PhD, which examines the development of the figure from the early modern period through to contemporary fantasy.

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