John Milton’s Paradise Lost and University Notes

  •  Milton's indebtedness to earlier poetry in his use of epic convention. His magnificent ‘Paradise Lost' is considered to be the finest epic poem in the English language.     
  •  Milton modified classical epic convention in the first 26 lines of Paradise Lost.

    (Bk-1) to suit his own purpose. Milton's originality in his use of the invocation- Fusion of the pagan (classical)  and the Christian.
  •  Milton's portrayal of Satan is unique—a character with real motivations and desires, Satan is led astray by excessive pride and belief in his own power over God’s power.
  • For the student who is reading Milton's work for the first time, his poetry is admittedly difficult. There are many references to obscure Biblical and mythological people. Milton's language is often high-flown, deliberately literary, and far from common or natural. 

  • John Milton
    Once these difficulties are overcome, however, the student can recognize why Milton is great. First, he sees that Milton's subjects are lofty and magnificent. The conflict between Satan and God in ‘Paradise Lost', however far from the reader's own experience, is one that he knows is basic to all religious thought. The theme of ‘Samson Agonistes' is closer to home, yet the agony and the final triumph of the blinded Samson are tragic and sublime.

  • Second, Milton tells an engrossing story. Action is swift and events are exciting. The characters are human and believable. Indeed, many critics have felt that Milton made Satan too human.

  • Finally, his endings are lifelike. Despite tragedy and death, life itself goes on. In his epic endings, a balance is restored and calm prevails. Life, not death, is triumphant.
  •  Although his work was later criticized by such authors as English poet William Blake and American-born English poet T. S. Eliot, John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is still considered the greatest epic poem of early modern English literature. The first 26 lines from Book I, which explains the origin of the conflict between God and Satan. Milton’s portrayal of Satan is unique—a character with real motivations and desires, Satan is led astray by excessive pride and belief in his own power over God’s power. In the first lines of the poem, Milton follows the convention in epic poems of invoking the Muses, the Greek goddesses that inspired poets, musicians, and philosophers, and he explains his purpose in writing the poem.  
  • Milton’s uniqueness with regard to his invocation to the Muse in Paradise Lost, is twofold: thematic and technical. For the modifies the traditional or classical / pagan invocation to make a fertile fusion of the Christian with the classical the spiritual with the nationalist.     (Rest part of Invocation)      
  •  The declamatory delivery of Satan’s speeches, evident in a voice like the sea, has a profound effect on the lightening begging of fallen angels. No others epic hero including the heroes of Iliad, odyssey, Divine Comedy etc. are as of amours for their demagogic power as Satan is.
  • Consider with reference to the lest of Milton's use of traditional epic devices / paraphernalia / connotations / features / qualities.  
  •  Milton's poetical works include ‘Comus' (1634); ‘Lycidas' (1638); ‘L'Allegro', ‘Il Penseroso' (1645); ‘Paradise Lost' (1667); ‘Paradise Regained', ‘Samson Agonistes' (1671); and many sonnets. His pamphlets include: ‘Of Reformation Touching Church Discipline' (1641); ‘The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce' (1643); ‘Of Education' (1644); ‘Areopagitica' (1644); ‘The Tenure of Kings and  Magistrates' (1649); ‘Eikono-klastes' (1649); and ‘Pro Populo Anglicano' 1651).                                                                   Ardhendu De                                                                                                                                                 

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