Skip Nav

Paradise Lost, John Milton (Literary Criticism (1400-1800)) - Essay

From the SparkNotes Blog

❶Themes Motifs Symbols Key Facts.

Paradise Lost Essay Examples

Study Questions
Introduction
After both Adam and Eve have eaten the fruit, what is the first thing they do?

Use our Essay Rewriter to automatically rewrite any essay and remove plagiarism. Satan, the once radiant Lucifer, and his angels lay in a formless, sulfurous lake of fire having just been driven out of Heaven. Their fall had sent them plummeting through space from their heavenly home down to Hell, leaving them beaten senseless. Only now, after lying unconscious for nine days, did Satan and his demons begin to rouse themselves.

Accustomed to living in heavenly glory, they found. Modern criticism of Paradise Lost has taken many different views of Milton's ideas in the poem. Pride brings him down 1.

Satan denies that God created him. Allows no one to go to Earth with him because he wants the glory. Revenge against God 1. He calls a council in Hell and then manipulates the vote. Ambivalence on Mount Niphates 1. He refuses to repent, though he knows his rebellion against God is unwarranted.

The extent to which the poem actually portrays women as inferior has long been a matter of debate, but it clearly states, more than once, that women must be in a mediated position: Eve relates to God through Adam; she is in the background when Adam talks to the angels; she is expected to follow Adam's lead. Nonetheless, despite the repeated stress on Eve's lower position with respect to Adam, the poem also describes in detail the ideal nature of wedded love as ordained by God.

In long passages discussing love and marriage, Milton portrays the model relationship as an equal partnership of shared labor. God creates Eve to provide Adam with a companion worthy of him, after Adam complains that the beasts are not enough.

While she is not Adam's equal in reason, she has merits he lacks, and enough reason to be fit for mutual conversation and work. Among the most fascinating of Adam and Eve's conversations are those in which they discuss their creation and self-recognition. The development of selfhood and the recognition of others as distinct from the self is a crucial part of Milton's creation story. In particular, Eve's awakening and subsequent introduction to Adam is a model for the gradual human development of self-awareness.

Milton's poetic contemporaries were generally awed by his achievement. John Dryden, the leading poet of Restoration society, remarked that in Paradise Lost Milton had outdone any other poet of his time: Some scholars have verified Dryden's assessment, suggesting that the decline of the epic genre was the direct result of Milton's supreme achievement, making any further efforts in the epic impossible and superfluous.

Although in many ways Milton was very much out of step with his contemporaries—religiously, politically, and artistically—his accomplishment in Paradise Lost was readily acknowledged, and his stature as a poet only increased through the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth, perhaps reaching a peak during the Romantic era. Romantic poets, including John Keats, William Blake, and Percy Shelley, celebrated Milton's genius and drew heavily from his influence. By the early twentieth century, however, some literary scholars began to question Milton's talent.

Inconsistencies in the poem became a target for the criticism of such luminaries as F. Milton's artistry and reputation was already established, however.

Criticism of the later twentieth century falls generally into three broad schools: Scholars take for granted that Paradise Lost reflects Milton's frustration with the failed Revolution. Joan Bennett has argued that Milton's depiction of Satan has strong connections to Charles I, linking his exploration of tyranny in Paradise Lost to his prose writings on the tyranny of the monarchy.

More broadly, historian Christopher Hill has suggested that the Fall of Man was for Milton analogous to the collapse of the Commonwealth government, each constituting a failure of humanity to choose the right path.

Criticism on the form of Paradise Lost has investigated Milton's innovations with the epic: Mary Ann Radzinowicz has detailed the poet's adaptation of psalm genres to the epic form, and Barbara Kiefer Lewalski has found that Milton appropriated a wide variety of genres to create the multiple voices of his characters, particularly in the difficult task of characterizing God.

Among the studies of the major themes in the poem, scholarship on Milton and women has been dominant. Opinions on Milton's misogyny or feminism have varied widely, with some scholars declaring that Milton was obsessed with the inherent wickedness of women, and others finding Milton to be a true champion of women's worth.

More nuanced readings of Paradise Lost have acknowledged Milton's insistence on women's subordination while also observing how the poem portrays women as independent humans with free will. Diane Kelsey McColley's study of Eve in Paradise Lost was among the first important studies attempting to strike a balance in the interpretation of Milton's depiction of the first woman. Other critics, such as Maureen Quilligan, have noted that much of the movement of the poem depends upon Eve and her use of free will.

And, as Linda Gregerson has argued, Milton's narration of Eve's coming to selfhood makes Eve, and not Adam, the model for human subjectivity. Eve, Myth, and Dream. University of Illinois Press, Colley disputes interpretations that view Eve's actions as a narcissistic impulse, instead maintaining that the scene asserts Eve's free will.

The allusion to pagan fable that most haunts views of Milton's Eve is her Narcissus-like behavior when, fresh from her Creator's hand, she pauses at the verge of the mirror lake attracted by her own reflection and has to The Politics of Reading, pp.

Cornell University Press, If we turn now to that superior song and look at one of Milton's invocations in Paradise Lost, we shall see Generic Multiplicity and Milton's Literary God. Princeton University Press, It is a commonplace of criticism that the most difficult problem Milton faced in Paradise Lost involved the portrayal of God. At the Clarendon Press, Milton's vision of pre-lapsarian sexuality, like the landscape of Paradise where it unfolds, is distinguished from all others

John Milton

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Free Essay on Milton's Paradise Lost - Paradise Lost as an Epic - Paradise Lost as an Epic The Oxford English Dictionary defines "cosmos" as "the world or universe as an ordered and harmonious system," from the Greek, "kosmos," referring to an ordered and/or ornamental thing.

Privacy FAQs

Paradise Lost literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Paradise Lost.

About Our Ads

Major Themes In Paradise Lost Essay Words: Pages: 6 Paragraphs: 19 Sentences: 90 Read Time: Modern criticism of Paradise Lost has taken many different views of Milton's ideas in the poem. Paradise Lost John Milton The following entry presents criticism of Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (published in ten books in ; enlarged into twelve books in ). See also, John Milton Criticism. The story of the Fall of Man is known to many people not so much through the .

Cookie Info

Discuss Paradise Lost, written by John Milton, as an epic. Milton's Paradise Lost is a long, narrative poem told in a serious manner, using elevated language, featuring characters of a high position. Milton's Paradise Lost From the War in Heaven through the fall of man in Paradise Lost, Satan's weapon at every point is some form of fraud (Anderson, ). Milton's Paradise Lost explains the .