Essay, Research Paper: Paradise Lost By Milton

Literature: John Milton

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Paradise Lost Milton writes Paradise Lost in the tradition of a classic epic
poem. All epic poems contain some common features. Milton follows this outline
with great precision and style. His poem uses the guidelines of an epic poem and
elaborates upon them to make his poem one of the most popular epics written. In
his poem, Milton uses the key points of an epic poem when he traditionally
invokes a muse to speak through him, includes great deeds of valor, long
speeches, and a list of the protagonists Milton follows the tradition of epic
poetry when he asks a muse to speak through him. It is clear that for Milton it
is the poet's submission to the voice of his muse, to divine inspiration, which
ultimately distinguishes the soaring creation of Paradise Lost from an insulting
speculation of what happens in the Garden of Eden. Milton does not, however,
present the hymn of a heavenly muse as his only defense against presuming too
much. Through the book, he remains sensitive to the relationship between himself
as poet and his center of attention. While he insists on the honest intentions
of what he undertakes, he never neglects to expose the satanic aspect of his
poetic posture. In this way Milton differs a slightly from a traditional epic.
Instead of speaking through Milton, the muse is more of a second person that
inspires Milton. Never the less, Paradise Lost still follows the outline of a
customary epic poem. Another part of a traditional epic poem is that the hero
must perform great deeds of valor to defeat the villain. Milton wants his
readers to be forced to face the problem of Satan seeming invincible. Satan is,
after all, an angel. He is a mighty angel that is removed from Heaven. In order
for us to see the power of God, it is necessary that Satan also be powerful. It
is important that Satan, a parody of God, is viewed as an eloquent, bold being;
one that possesses superhuman strength, extraordinary martial prowess, and
fortitude so that he can be a foil to show how great God is. In order for God to
vanquish and control this awesome being, his characteristics must exceed the
characteristics of Satan. Therefore, it emphasizes the great valor God possesses
to successfully defeat Satan in their battle. One of the last characteristics
that this poem demonstrates that are typical of an epic poem is the long list of
the protagonists that the plot involves accompanied by long speeches by the main
characters. Milton dedicates a large portion of the first book of the series to
a catalogue of the fallen angels. The numbers of angels that are listed are used
to give the reader the notion of being overwhelmed by the mass number of
villains. He also provides extended formal speeches by the main characters. It
is on the basis of the eloquence and power of those speeches that much of the
personality of the characters is shown. This listing of villains and long,
profound speeches verifies that this poem fits every description of an epic
poem. When Milton writes Paradise Lost he uses a general outline that will
categorize his poem as an epic poem. He elaborates on the general
characteristics of an epic poem including the relationship between the muse and
him. They are shown as two separate people with the muse as the higher being.
Obviously, in spite of some adjustments and alterations, Milton undeniably uses
classical epic traits. Milton builds his epic out of views of the past and uses
every feature of epic poetry that can possibly be used.
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