Paradise Lost

by thelicianne
Last updated 5 years ago

Discipline:
Language Arts
Subject:
Literature
Grade:
10,11,12

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Paradise Lost

Paradise LostbyJohn Milton

Of Man’s First DisobedienceParadise Lost is an English epic, using structuaral elements of Latin and Greek literature to tell the Biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation and banishment from Eden. While Milton wrote from a strongly Christian perspective, his uniquely sympathetic treatment of the fallen angel Satan is one of the epic's most enduring intrigues, and even led William Blake to suggest that Milton was "of the devil's party without knowing it".Satan as Anti-HeroFar from the feelingless figure of evil traditionally depicted by the Church, Milton's Satan is charismatic, deeply emotive, and more than a little arrogant. His motives for warring against heaven stem from pride, and a desire for liberation. Given the Classical tropes of the epic, Satan can be seen almost as a tragic hero - a strong and charismatic character defeated by the fatal flaw of hubris. One of the most humanizing moments for Satan is Milton's description of his reaction to Eve's innocent beauty, when "the evil one abstracted stood/ from his own evil". This implies that it is possible for Satan to exist as something other than evil itself, and to feel something almost akin to love.Stanley Fish's Threefold FallStanley Fish's Surprised by Sin, a 20th Century interpretation of Paradise Lost, offers a truly elegant explanation for Satan's sympathetic nature in the form of a threefold fall - The reader engages with Satan's fall from Heaven, and then with Mankind's fall from grace, and concludes the epic with the shock of his own fall: in reading the epic, he has felt true sympathy for the devil. Perhaps Milton's purpose in writing Paradise Lost was to show that evil cannot be abstracted into a single figure, but is something that we all must battle in our own ways...

The Prologue, read by Ian Richardson.

O foul descent! that I, who erst contendedWith Gods to sit the highest, am now constrainedInto a beast; and, mixed with bestial slimeThis essence to incarnate and imbruteThat to the height of Deity aspired!

Me miserable! which way shall I fly Infinite wrath and infinite despair? Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell; And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep Still threatening to devour me opens wide.

So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear, Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost; Evil, be thou my Good: by thee at least Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold.

Click the tree of knowledgeto read the full epic!

Click this tempting serpentto learn his true identity...


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