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John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

12 Feb

John Milton

John Milton was a 17th century English poet. He is considered the most significant English author after William Shakespeare. He is best known for Paradise Lost, an epic poem that is considered to be the greatest in English.

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse. The first version, that consisted of ten thousand books with over seven thousand lines of verse, was published in 1667. Later on in 1674, a second edition was published that was arranged into twelve books with minor revisions. Critics claim this is Milton’s greatest work and sealed his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.

The poem is about the Fall of Man. It covers the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Satan’s temptation. Milton’s purpose as stated in Book I is to “justify the ways of God to man.”

The poem has two plots: One focusing on Adam and Eve and the other focusing on Satan.

The story of Satan: Opens in Hell after he and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished. Satan was formerly the most beautiful of all angels in Heaven. He held a rebellion to try to take the control from God and that is what ultimately got him banished to Hell along with his followers.  He is very cunning and persuasive throughout the whole poem. He convinces his followers to continue on with the rebellion even after their defeat because he claims that God rules as a tyrant and and all the angels should rule as gods. Satan decides to explore the new world God has created to seek revenge. God sees Satan flying towards the world and foretells the fall of man and the Son of God offers to sacrifice himself to the good of man. Satan finds his way to the Garden of Eden.

The story of Adam and Eve: Adam was the first human created by God and demands a mate. God creates Eve from one of Adam’s ribs and shaped into a female version of him. Adam and Eve rule over the creatures of the world and live in the Garden of Eden. Adam is infatuated with Eve which will eventually lead to their downfall. Eve is nothing like a traditional “good wife”. She refuses to be submissive to Adam and has more intelligence and curiosity than him. She loves Adam but feels suffocated by his constant presence. She convinces Adam to work in difference parts of the garden for a day and this is when Satan steps in and tempts Eve to sin against God. Satan, appearing as a serpent, finds Eve alone and convinces her to eat off the one tree God commanded they stay away from. She does it, and shortly after, Adam does as well. The Son of God descends to Earth to judge them and has mercy on them and delays their sentence of death. Satan and his followers are turned to serpents. Adam has a vision of the future and he sees everything that will happen to mankind until the Great Flood. In his obvious concern, the angel, Michael, tells him of the potential redemption to humankind through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Then, Adam and Eve are sent away from the Garden of Paradise.

Paradise Lost related to Frankenstein: Victor and the creature reunite on Mount Blanc and the creature tells Victor, “I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam”. The creature, once abandoned by Victor, begins teaching himself and one of the books he read was Paradise Lost.  “The creature draws parallels between his existence and the story told in the poem, as well as contrasting his life with the poem” (mtholyoke,edu). Frankenstein blames his loss of innocence on the acts he had committed, as Adam had done.  Victor resembles Satan because he tries to take over God’s role as the creator of the universe. He wants to make creatures that will worship, honor and follow him as a God.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Frankenstein

 

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