The Most Surprising Things about Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem that narrates the biblical story of the fall of Mankind from Adam and Eve and the extension to all humanity. Milton tells the story in a supreme language that achieves the sound and rhythm of supremacy. The one thing I found surprising about the story is that this great religious epic focuses on Satan, presents him first, and in several ways makes him the poem’s hero, something extraordinary. Nonetheless, this story fits my expectations in different ways. First, it is narrated precisely as the story is in the bible. The themes and characters are all the same.
Most importantly, the author gives more in-depth information by describing how Satan fell from grace and was expelled from Heaven and gathered to him other fallen angels, ultimately becoming the human race tempter. This is evident in the quote where Satan says, “All is not lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield; (And what is else not to be overcome?) That glory never shall his wrath or might extort from me, to bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee and deify his power, who from the terror of his arm so late doubted his empire” (Greenblatt, Stephen, and Carol 2952). This meant that once Satan had fallen to hell, he comforted his troops by saying that even if they had lost Heaven, they must never lose their ill to resist. The story is different from that of the biblical account because while the bible tells the fall of man in a single book, Joh Milton does it in several books by adding a lot of detail about the entire story of man, the beginning of Satan, Man’s Fall and Satan’s rise. Unfortunately, there were characters, events, or themes that I never expected to see.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and Carol T. Christ, eds. The Norton anthology of English literature. Vol. 1. WW Norton & Company, 2012.
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What was most surprising to you about Paradise Lost? In what ways did the text fit your expectations? How was it different? Were there any themes, characters, events, etc. that you did not expect to see?
Paradise Lost is often referred to as the “great Protestant epic.” Reflecting on traditional epics (Odyssey, Iliad, Beowulf) and the common characteristics of the genre (heroes, monsters, supernatural influences, etc.) how well does Paradise Lost fit the epic genre?
Book 9 of Paradise Lost contains a lot of finger-pointing. Evaluate who is the most blameworthy character and use evidence from the text to justify your rationale. Explain what Milton wants readers to learn from his epic.