Essay, Research Paper: Paradise Lost By Milton

Literature: John Milton

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Paradise Lost, reaches out and pulls in references and allusions to other
literary works, making it Milton’s most influential piece of literary work.
The writing echoes primary epic and the epic’s elevated language of describing
people and events in great detail and in super realistic terms. Primary epic
often uses nature as a simile, as with the line, “Thick with autumnal leaves
that strew the brook.”(303). This line portrays an image of thousands of dead,
brown, wet, and muddy leaves, which add more depth to the portrait of the fallen
angels described in the passages from lines 299-313. To assert this description
further, Milton uses references to specific places to affirm and reinforce the
grand stature of the characters to whom he is referring. For example, the demons
are, “High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge / Afloat, when with fierce
winds Orion armed / Hath vexed the Red Sea coast," (304-06). Orion armed is
associated with seasonal storms and The Red Sea in Hebrew is called The sea of
sedge. These two images when combined, add a fierce and grimy portrait of these
fiends. They seem to be hovering, and waiting for the right moment to generate
chaos in the world G-d has thrown them down to. Milton has, in this passage,
begun the process of characterization of these demons. He endows Satan with
heroic qualities and his cohorts emerge as militant followers of a stately, yet
ominous leader. Although Satan has heroic qualities and his angels are portrayed
as evil warriors, Milton often has these rebellious angels remember what they
have lost and given up. This helps to express the nature of their evil. Each
demon is aware of their condition and their transgression from Heaven to Hell
and they are, “Under amazement of their hideous change.” (313). The main
theme of the poem as a whole, is the examination of the origin of human
Christian civilization, the emergence of evil, and how evil forces secure
themselves into the world in the first place. The question of why G-d has
allowed this evil to emerge and what is G-d’s solution, is answered through
Milton’s similes and references to historical events. For instance, Milton
refers to the Biblical event of the Exodus, by describing how multitudes of
fallen angels chased the Hebrew children through the Red Sea: “The sojourners
of Goshen, who beheld / From the safe shore their floating carcasses / And
broken chariot wheels;” (310-11). Besides the “broken chariot
wheels;”(311) being another simile to the sheer quantity of the fallen angels,
the reference to the event of the Passover suggests that, although G-d has
allowed for a certain amount of evil to take place, in the end his omnipotence
will ultimately divert Satan and the deception he has devised. Although G-d’s
actions may seem unjust, He has made provisions for the evil through Christ. The
passage within the poem reflects the evil nature of Satan, prior tohis plan to
corrupt the innocence of Adam and Eve. To supplement this evil, Milton uses
strong language such as “vexed” and “fierce.” He uses word combinations
to describe the physical and the ethereal. For example, “Perfidious hatred”
is used to describe the motivation behind the pursuit of the Hebrew children in
the Exodus. By using strong language and similes to nature, Milton has
established in his descriptions, an epic tradition.
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Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines hero as the principal male personage, usually of noble character in a poem, story, drama, or the like regarded as a model. Milton's Paradise Lost presents t...
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