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Milton's Paradise Lost

Milton was without a doubt a powerful writer and exceptional poet. One of his most famous works, PARADISE LOST, is not just a biblical retelling of the fall of man, but a work in which Milton rewrites Genesis. William Blake was so disgusted by Milton’s portrayal of God as inferior and Satan as superior that he referred to Milton as a Satanist. Yet, aptly stated by Stanley Fish, Milton does so to seduce the reader with Satan’s tantalizing language in a manner that places the reader in the role of Eve. Milton first emphasizes the prelapsarian world where temporality is non-existent, to after the fall, in which Adam and Eve now exist in a postlapsarian world in which Adam and Eve begin to notice one another in a sexual manner, realize their being nude, and experience feelings of embarrassment and shame. Does Milton glorify Satan and place God in an inferior position, or is he simply utilizing the poem to showcase the ease in which one slips into sin, and the eventual redemption that will occur with the saving grace of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus’ death to save mankind? Is this a work mocking the Fall of man, or one that upholds and restores the power of faith?

  • Though I like a good discussion of Paradise Lost as much as the next guy, something about seeing it here (perhaps coloured your vague choice of subject title) seems a little redundant. Milton criticism is as old as he is; go to any good library with a LCC system, and you'll find literally hundreds of titles between the call numbers of PR 3560 A2 E45 and PR 3597 B8, with Blake, Fish, and countless others among them. With such a rigorous tradition of criticism that has exhausted nearly every conceivable topic concerning the poem, I'm not really sure what you, me, or anyone on this site could really add to all of that. Sorry for being a downer. – ProtoCanon 7 years ago
  • Milton's intention in writing Paradise Lost was to (at least, according to this poem) "assert Eternal Providence/ And justify the ways of God to men." This might lend itself against William Blake's interpretation and towards the interpretation of Stanley Fish. Should also be remembered that within the Christian tradition Satan is depicted as a proud and ambitious spirit. Therefore any presentation of him that borrows from this tradition would necessarily show a charismatic underdog fighting against impossible odds - a figure easy to sympathize (and thus tempting to do so). This might prove helpful should someone decide to write about the topic. – Mack 7 years ago