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Paradise Lost-Milton

Paradise Lost-Milton



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Published by AbdulRehman
A study guide to Milton's Paradise Lost. Critical questions about Paradise Lost. Helpful for M.A English students.
A study guide to Milton's Paradise Lost. Critical questions about Paradise Lost. Helpful for M.A English students.

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Published by: AbdulRehman on Sep 26, 2009
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 Milton’s Paradise Lost, in its epic form, opens with an invocation which has now become famous. In lines1-26, which form a prologue to the poem, Milton states the theme of his poem and prays to a Muse toinspire him. Homer’s Iliad begins with a similar invocation. Virgil began his Aeneid in the same way. Thetheme of Paradise Lost is stated in the very first lines. Milton is going to writeOf man’s first disobedience, and the fruitOf that forbidden tree whose mortal tasteBrought death into the world……………..And he is going to try to “assert Eternal Providence” i-e, seek God’s care and justify the ways of God tomen.The emphasis is going to be on “Man” and nor Satan. The subject is clearly the Christian one, taken fromthe Genesis. It is appropriate that Milton invokes a Muse who lives higher than Mount Olympus. TheHeavenly Muse of Milton lives on the Mount Sinai, sacred place associated with Moses the Prophet. Justas the classical Muse was requested to guide the poet, the Heavenly Muse is invoked by Milton to leadhim. His subject is of higher order—it deals with the very history of mankind as expressed in the Bible.Whereas, the classical epics, there had been a national hero as its subject. The poet hopes that with thehelp of the Heavenly Muse he will be able to deal with the problem of justifying the ways of God to men.In the first twenty- six lines, Milton has united three moods—classical, Hebrew and Puritan. Thecomprehensive nature of his task is indicated and his rank is established as an epic poet higher than theclassical models.It is characteristic of Milton to have begun Paradise Lost correctly with an invocation to the Muse in trueclassical tradition. Milton leads up to the climax of the invocation by his eloquent language and intensity.The prologue to Paradise lost states the subject and requests for divine guidance. The style of theprologue in its imaginative power and its verse music performs another vital function. These twenty-sixlines are constructed to give rise to the feeling that some highly important thing is about to begin.Milton follows the classical model not only in form and device. He uses a grammatical structure which istypically derived from Latin. The first scene for instance, goes on until line 6 before the constructionbecomes clear with the verb “Sing”. Milton uses devices perfectly suited to keep the flow of the passage.Its beginning is forcible, simple but large. The sense is then developed, extended and qualified in a greatvariety of ways, by the subordination of clauses, skilful use of conjunctions, prepositions and relativepronouns. Normal English word order is reversed so that the object of the opening sentence may beplaced at the very beginning. Thus the theme of the poem gets an important place.The prologue has a power and sublimity. T.S Eliot calls the quality “a breathless leap”. Milton brings inall the things he is going to deal with – disobedience, death, loss of Eden, and restoration through “Onegreater Man”—before he brings in the verb. There is wonderful agreement between syntax andversification.The climax is simple in grandeur. The placing of the pauses, rise and fall of emotions and the humbletone of appeal to have his darkness lighted and the final powerful simplicity of the concluding remarks of his purpose—all this represent poetic art of high order. Milton is going to write about the fall of Man andthe first act in this epic is the fall of Satan who takes his revenge on God by deceiving man into folly andevil.
 The theme of Paradise Lost is clearly stated in the opening lines. In lines 1-26, we are told that Milton isgoing to deal with Man’s first disobedience and the consequences of his tasting the fruit of the forbiddentree. Milton’s purpose is to assert “Eternal Providence” and justify the ways of God to man. The subjectis Biblical, and thus Milton considers it to be more elevated than the subjects dealt with by the otherclassical epic writers. He invoked the Heavenly Muse to inspire him so that his poem rises above theMount Olympus, and so that he may be successful in his undertaking, the like of which had yet not beenattempted in prose or poetry.In lines 27-44, Milton talks of the prime cause of man’s fall. “Who first reduced them to that foul revolt?”he asks and answers that it was “The internal serpent” Satan, driven by hate, envy and revenge, who haddeceived Eve, the mother of Mankind. Satan’s boastful pride had urged him to start an impious war inHeaven. When he failed in attempt, he was driven out of Heaven along with his followers and throwndown to bottomless Hell.In typical epic fashion, Milton begins the poem in the middle of the story. He begins by describing thestate of fallen angels. They have fallen from Heaven and are lying on the fiery lake of Hell. Except forSatan, the fallen angels are miserable crowd. Beelzebub says that they are swallowed up in endlessmisery. They lie crawling and flat on the fiery lake. They are mean and lost, full of amazement on theirhorrible change.They feel guilt when Satan is criticizing and threatens them. Milton now uses a series of similes toindicate their confusion, their large number and their essential evil. They are compared to locusts andbarbarians. But they have not lost their god-like shapes. It reminds us of their glory that has been lost.Their names have been blotted out from the heavenly Book of life.Their looks are down cast and damp. But, they cheer up on seeing Satan self confident and courageous.He drives away their despair and fear. The fallen angels get busy on urging by Satan. Trumpets areblown, his “mighty standard” is raised and ten thousand banners rise into the air along with largenumber of spears. The fallen angels stand in military formation. They slowly present a picture of unity.Once again Milton gives a series of similes to emphasize the size, vastness and power of Satan’s forces.But at the same time, we are not allowed to forget their weakened glory. Milton achieves this effect bycomparing them to huge trees struck by lightning. Satan’s voice, echoing in the hollow deeps of Hell, hashowever, revived them. They raise their flaming swords to confirm his words. Then, Milton gives the listof devils showing all the wickedness which these devils represent.The fallen angels are huge in number. But the impression of their strength and dignity is slowly degradedby the end of the Book I. Towards the end, we are told how, in order to keep all of them inpandemonium, these angels reduced themselves to the smallest size. Now they look like dwarfs, a swarmof bees. Thus there is created an impression of the ridiculous. The impression of their grandeur is short-lived, and their activity is exposed for the evil intentions acting behind it.
Written And Composed By:Prof. A.R. SomrooM.A. English, M.A. Education.Cell Phone: 03339971417.
Milton's Satan has been a controversial character. Misreading of the character has led people to admireSatan as an unqualified hero. But such a misreading fails to take into account the fact that Satan isessentially the personification of evil. He may have certain heroic qualities – determination, self-confidence, patience, ability to support tired wills. But these very qualities lose much of their grandeurwhen seen in context of the intention and the circumstances that cause these qualities to appear. If weadmire Satan, we are attesting the misery and suffering that he and his followers have to bear in the Hell.We are also approving of his lies and deception, his propaganda against God, and his pride which urgeshim to picture himself as the future ruler of Heaven. If we admire Satan, we are showing an approval of aworld full of evil and falseness.Milton shows a clear picture of the misery into which Satan and his followers have fallen. Satan has beenfallen "head-long flaming" from Heaven to "bottomless perdition". On recovering his senses, he istortured by the thought of "lost happiness and lasting pain". Satan himself is fully aware of the glory heand his companions have lost. Only "sights of woe" meet his eye and it is a place where "peace and restcan never dwell" and where "hope never comes". The disorder of the place is evident in the fact thatflame exists there without light and darkness is "visible" only to show the misery. The conditions in Hellare experienced by Satan only as a result of the impious war raised in Heaven.The very first speech of Satan has an ironical quality while it reduces Satan's stature. He invents a justification for the rebellion. He says that it expressed his fixed mind and dislike for God. Revenge andimmortal hate are going to be his motto and no moral standards can allow one to admire Satan for it. Hisspeeches are full of pride and ego. He even claims that God had feared Satan's strength. This is merenonsense. Satan falsifies both the past and the present. He is obstinate and proud. He proposes eternalwar with Omnipotent God. It speaks of an illogical mind whose wishful thinking has blinded it to reality.Satan has determined to always do evil in order to negate the will of God. If God would work well out of evil, Satan would bring evil out of good. Satan's empire obviously will be full of evil and misery; and if weadmire him we are giving our consent to the creation of such an empire. The illogicality and wishfulthinking mark Satan's motivating his followers to continue their war, knowing God's power. Critics havecalled this "courage", but, it is a foolish courage.Satan claims that he is equal to God in faculty of reason, but admits his inferiority in respect of force. Hetries to cover the fall to Hell by saying that the mind is capable of making a Heaven of Hell. It only meansthat he will carry Hell wherever he goes. He grandly declares: "Better to reign in Hell than serve inHeaven". The self importance is obvious—so long as Satan can be king-figure, it does not matter what herules over. It is foolish to think of freedom in such a dreadful place for freedom loses its meaning, yetSatan leads his followers into false belief with: "Here at least we shall be free"There is a sense of unreality about Satan's words, for it is not better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.The speeches of Satan show a combination of Vanity, self deception and rebel rousing. Satan addresseshis followers as "Princes, potentates, flowers of Heaven"—which are absurd when we note that theseprinces and warriors are lying mean and lost amazed at their hideous change. Satan reveals himself inBook I of Paradise Lost as a cunning, malicious and evil being, all the more dangerous because his liesare in deceptive rhetoric and his false propaganda springs from a powerful intellect. To admire him isindeed; to give vote for the world of misery he is capable of creating.

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Could you please add this note - "The rape of the lock as a masterpiece of poetic art."?
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thanks alot this will help me in my semester paper .
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thnk u very much sir for doing these efforts to help student,,,,, Iam C.R in my class and position holder my all class is big fans of u .... NUML ISLAMABAD
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its excellent
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fine attempt yet it should be opened for every on to get its print easily .Any how it is good somoro sb

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