Paradise Lost: Milton's Epic Poem - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      Paradise Lost (1667 in ten books, 1674 in twelve books) is Milton's epic poem which deals with the Fall of man. Milton draws upon the entire Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Book I deals with the fallen angels in hell and Satan's resolve to revenge God, Books II and III show Satan's mission to annex the newly created world. Book IV shows Adam and Eve in their innocence and loveliness. The low subterfuge of Satan in whispering to Eve begins his debasement. Books V, VI, and VII relate to Kaphael's recounting of war in heaven and six days of creation. In Book VII, Satan resolves to make Eve sin and in Book IX, Satan persuades her to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. In book X, God sends His son to pronounce judgment and in pity to clothe the pair. After lamentations, Adam and Eve are reconciled and plead to God for mercy. In Book XI, Michael who is sent to dispossess Adam and Eve from Paradise reveals to Adam the course of history up to the Flood. In Book XII, Michael reveals to Adam the mission of the Son of God and the means by which Adam's descendants may regain Paradise within themselves.

      Paradise Lost is conceived in grandeur and magnitude from the initial weltering of the fallen angels upon the vast fiery lake of Hell until the monumental expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. It is grand in style, in epic similes in long periodic sentences, in elaborate compound epithets and rich allusiveness. It is written in sonorous blank verse and is remarkable for gorgeous music.

Paradise Lost is conceived in grandeur and magnitude from the initial weltering of the fallen angels upon the vast fiery lake of Hell until the monumental expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise.
Paradise Lost

Critical Analysis

      Milton writes the poem to justify the ways of God to man but his form is the epic poem after the manner of Greek and Latin masters. Thus in spirit it is Hebraic but in form it is Hellenic. It is the successful product of the combined spirits of the Reformation and the Renaissance. It is the only epic in English literature. It is written according to the tradition set by Homer and Virgil. It has the breadth and amplitude of Homerie epic and it is constructed on an epic scale with prologue, argument, and exordium. It tells the story with backward-forward movement and with digressions and descriptions, long speeches and epic similes. It has the features of epic poetry - Prologue (Invocation), Epic similes, journey, catalog of fallen angels, game etc. It has the choric quality, as Tylliard says it expresses the Restoration-cum-Puritanic age of England.

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