The Fallen Angels in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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The Fallen Angels in Paradise Lost

The fallen angels are Satan's minions and the voices by which

Milton may express a variety of opinions and views, showing the diversity

and intricacies of Hell, and the immorality of their actions and proposals.

Whilst we are often impressed by the skill with which the individual

leaders perform their tasks and speeches, we are never left in any doubt as

to the truth of G-d, and the futility of their debates. By examining the

angels as a group, Milton is able to leave the infernal dungeon, to take a

flight throughout history, giving his own point of view. It is thus that

Books I and II of "Paradise Lost" are so unique, as the alternative, and

less-frequently explored world of the devils, is probed in such a

fascinating manner.

Milton uses the story of the fallen angels to open out on numerous

eras, civilisations, myths and stories, allowing him to convey his own

perception of the world's history, as the reader is guided through various

points in time. Before we are introduced to the individuals, Milton

depicts an enormous army of different species, each of changeable size and

form. The image of a "pitchy cloud / Of locusts" to describe them as they

rise from the burning lake is especially apt, given the destructive nature

of, and biblical references to these insects. Milton states that they lost

their original names after the Fall ("Got them new names, till wand'ring

o'er the earth") and that they became known to man as the heathen idols of

the Old Testament and the pagan deities of Egypt and Greece. A rich

portrait of mythological and biblical history is painted, t...

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...ilton. New York: Norton, 1957.

Elledge, Scott, ed. Paradise Lost: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources,

Criticism. New York: Norton, 1975.

Fox, Robert C. "The Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost." Modern Language

Quarterly 24 (1963): 354-64.

---. "Milton's 'Sin': Addenda." Philological Quarterly 42 (1963): 120-21.

Johnson, Samuel. "Paradise Lost." Elledge 521-34.

Lewis, C. S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Rpt. New York: Oxford UP, 1979.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. In John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed.

Merritt Y. Hughes. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1980.

O'Keeffe, Timothy J. "An Analogue to Milton's 'Sin' and More on the Tradition."

Milton Quarterly 5 (1971): 74-77.

Patrick, John M. "Milton, Phineas Fletcher, Spenser, and Ovid--Sin at Hell's Gates."

Notes and Queries Sept. 1956: 384-86.
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