Essay on the Downfall of Man in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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The classic tragedy Paradise Lost, written by John Milton, demonstrates how the fallen angels lose the paradise they have been given, and how this fall directly effects the downfall of man as well.

Before anything ever was, all matter was chaos; utter darkness and filth. A mighty being, God, rose up out of chaos and created the firmament called Heaven, and all the universe (4). The angels, and archangels that populated Heaven, danced in the realms of the magnificent light (8).

Lucifer, the highest archangel, stepped fourth and accused God of his power, jealously tying to take it from him. Almighty God cast him, and his followers out of the sublime realm. The fallen angels transcended back into the filth of chaos. This chaos being the exact opposite of paradise, Hell. This establishes how paradise was lost.

"To mortal men, he with his horrid crew

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf

Confounded though immortal. But his doom

Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought

Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes,

That witnessed huge affliction and dismay

Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate" (8).

God gave Lucifer the appearance of a serpent, and called that serpent Satan. Satan, unable to rise from chaos, built a palace that was called Pandemonium (5).

Satan gathers a council of his fallen colleagues to further wage war against God in order to take Heaven.

"High on a throne of royal state, which far

Outshown the wealth of Ormus and of Ind

Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand

Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,

Satan exalted sat, by merit raised

To that bad eminence...

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...econd edn. NY: Norton, 1993.

Frye, Northrop. "The Return of Eden", Buffalo: Univ. of Toronto, 1965, 39-43

Kermode, Frank. Ed. "Adam Unparadised" in The Living Milton: Essays by Various Hands, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960.

Lewalski, Barbara. Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms Princeton: Princeton U. , 1985, 174.

Lieb, Michael. Poetics of the Holy: A Reading of Paradise Lost. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.

Lovejoy, Arthur O. "Milton and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall," ELH 4 (1937), 161-179.

Mahood, M. M. "Milton's Heroes," in Alan Rudrum, ed., Milton: Modern Judgements, London: Macmillan, 1968, 262-63.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost in The Portable Milton. Editor Douglas Bush, New York: Viking Press, 1977.

Patrides, C.A. Milton and The Christian Tradition. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966)
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