Free Essay on Milton's Paradise Lost - Paradise Lost as an Epic

1720 Words7 Pages
Paradise Lost as an Epic The Oxford English Dictionary defines "cosmos" as "the world or universe as an ordered and harmonious system," from the Greek, "kosmos," referring to an ordered and/or ornamental thing. Though Pythagoras is credited with first using this term to describe the Universe, probably since he is also the one most commonly cited for ideas of harmony and the Musica Mundana, cosmos is generally a contrast to "chaos"-"the first state of the universe." In explaining the theology and cosmology of Paradise Lost, Milton writes, "the heavens and earth/ Rose out of Chaos," describing the move from the formless mass to the ordered whole. (I:9-10) As much as this delineates the structure of the world, however, its culmination seems to appear in the Spirit, as Milton has conceived it-the free, reasoning, integrated Consciousness. Though many have found a hero in the English epic from its dramatis personae-from Adam to Satan to God/Son himself-the most encompassing heroism seems that of Milton himself, as a manifestation of this most supreme of creations: the wholesome mind. An instance in which Milton's views on the sovereignty of the Spirit appear in some of the conversations of the Arch Fiend himself with his fellows-which is quite ironic, considering that the story is an extrapolation upon Christian Scripture. One of Satan's "compeers" says, during a discussion after their exile from Heaven: Too well I see and rue the dire event That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat, Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host In horrible destruction laid thus low, As far as Gods and heavenly Essences Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains Invincible, and vigour soon returns, Though all our glory extinct, and happy state Here swallowed up in endless misery (I:135-140). The invincibility of "the mind and spirit" is something which even the foes of God understand. Though the fallen angels corrupt their "heavenly Essences" with disobedience and revolt, they still have a keen understanding of the powers of perception, of personal reaction to one's environment-"for neither do the Spirits damned/ Lose all their virtue" (2:482-483). Satan boldly speaks to his fellows, asking What though the field be lost? All is not lost-the unconquerable will . . . And courage never to submit or yield (I:105-108). Like a true hero, Satan refers to conquest and courage, a response to the tyranny he and his cohorts have received from the hand of God.
Open Document