"Milton’s Satan is terrifying because he is recognizably human: he exhibits ambition, pride, desire for freedom, and injury at being undervalued. Like Milton’s Satan, Walt is an anti-hero, burningly intelligent and reeking of lust for power.
Walt’s dilemma is the same as Satan’s: how to assert a modicum of control — of free will — against forces larger than oneself. Satan rages against a tyrannical, unjust, uncaring God; Walt battles against the inexplicability of his cancer and a broken health-care system.
Like Milton’s Satan, Walt seeks to reason and justify his rebellion. He invokes art, science, free market rationality, protection of one’s family. In this sense, libertarians and artists alike ought to embrace Walt. He is a radical individual. His product, while problematic, merely feeds demand; demand increases, and so too must production.
Walt risks all to feed a ceaseless, self-destructive desire to be king. For Milton’s Satan, ruling Hell means liberty; for Walt, selling meth means being no one’s bitch. As Milton’s Satan says of Hell, “Here at least / We shall be free.”
– from In Hell, “We Shall Be Free”: On “Breaking Bad” by Michelle Kuo & Albert Wu
Illustration: Paul Gustave Doré, Paradise Lost - The Fall of Satan